Photo: Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images
The most cases of omicron are “mild” and there is no evidence that the new variant has any impact on the effectiveness of currently available vaccines, revealed a Official of the World Health Organization.
The health official, who was not identified, said preliminary evidence suggests that most people who become infected with the strain only experience “mild” symptoms.
No signs that current available Covid vaccines are less effective against Omicron, despite the variant having more than 40 mutations, he noted.
But they cautioned that some mutations in the variant, which is scientifically known as B.1.1.529, suggest that it spreads more easily.
South African doctors have reported in the past week that most cases are mild.
A senior official in Botswana, where the strain may have emerged, said 85 percent of the cases showed no symptoms.
However, hospitalizations have risen in South Africa since the virus emerged, and experts warn that it will take at least two weeks for a better understanding of the impact the variant could have.
Dr. Angelique Coetzee, president of the South African Medical Association and the first person to detect the new variant in a patient, said her Omicron-infected patients reported different and much milder symptomssuch as tiredness, muscle aches, headache, and dry cough.
But none reported telltale symptoms of loss of smell or taste or breathing difficulties.
Vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer are already working on Covid vaccines that could combat the Omicron strain, if it poses a problem for existing vaccines, but they won’t be ready until mid-2022.
Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are competing to determine whether their vaccines will protect against the variant and exploring ways to modify them if necessary.
Despite the unknowns and the fact that the World Health Organization considers the Omicron strain a “variant of concern”, all the experts agree with the same message: do not panic.
“This is what viruses do. They mutate. This is normal, ”said Melissa Nolan, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.
“This will not be the last variant of concern. There will be more as long as we have unvaccinated people, susceptible to disease.
“If he’s fully vaccinated and boosted, he’ll probably be fine,” Nolan said.
* Boosters are 90% effective against Omicron, Pfizer, according to Israeli scientists
* Ómicron: the graphs showing the 5 variants of SARS-CoV-2 that the WHO considers “of concern”
* “Ómicron reminds us that this is not over,” says Tedros Adhanom, WHO Director