In mid-November, Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, alerted the country’s vaccine advisory committee after seeing multiple COVID-19 patients who were experiencing significant fatigue.
Coetzee was seemingly the first to bring attention to the emerging Omicron variant.
Speaking with The Telegraph, a U.K. publication, Coetzee noted the apparent symptoms in patients with the Omicron variant, and added that they appear mild.
“Looking at the mildness of the symptoms that we are seeing, currently there is no reason for panicking as we don’t see severely ill patients,” Coetzee said.
The doctor continued, stating that this variant seemed to start with the 40-and-under group, with the “most predominant clinical complaint” being “severe fatigue for one or two days,” as well as “headache” and “body aches.”
Dr. Coetzee added that one very young patient had a high pulse and fever, but within two days, had gotten “much better.”
“What we are seeing clinically in South Africa … is extremely mild. For us, that’s mild cases. We haven’t admitted anyone. I spoke to other colleagues of mine, same picture,” Coetzee said in another video published on The Telegraph’s YouTube channel.
When asked by a TV host if the U.S., U.K., and Europe are “panicking unnecessarily,” Coetzee replied: “I think you already have it there in your country. … I would say yes, at this stage, I would say definitely. Two weeks from now, maybe we will say something different.”
Coetzee did express concern for the elderly, especially those who have not been vaccinated.
The latest coronavirus variant, B.1.1.529, dubbed Omicron, was designated as a “Variant of Concern” by the World Health Organization on Friday following reports of the virus variant in South Africa.
As The Daily Wire reported, Pfizer/BioNTech, as well as Moderna and other vaccine makers, are looking into the possibility of variant-targeted booster shots.
A BioNTech spokesperson told Fox Business: “In the event that vaccine-escape variant emerges, Pfizer and BioNTech expect to be able to develop and produce a tailor-made vaccine against that variant in approximately 100 days, subject to regulatory approval.”
Additionally, on Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and spoke about Omicron.
“So the critical questions now are: Do the antibodies block this well? And what is the seriousness of the disease?” Fauci stated. “So there are enough people right now in South Africa that our South African colleagues are following to determine is this highly transmissible, but doesn’t really give a severe disease, or does it really give the same kind of severity that we’ve seen with Delta and other variants? All of these are gaps in our knowledge that we are all over and going to find them out pretty quickly.”