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Are Omicron variant symptoms more severe?

02 December 2021 - 07:09
Medical experts are seeing mild symptoms in sufferers of the new Covid-19 variant Omicron.
Medical experts are seeing mild symptoms in sufferers of the new Covid-19 variant Omicron. 
Image: 123RF/perig76

Covid-19 symptoms linked to the new Omicron variant are “extremely mild”. 

This is according to Dr Angelique Coetzee, who is chairperson of the SA Medical Association (SAMA) and was among those who first raised the alarm over the new strain.

The variant was first detected last week in SA using samples taken between November 14 and 16.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) classified it as a variant “of concern” late last week and gave it the name Omicron.

Speaking on the BBC, Coetzee said patients with the new variant present “unusual symptoms” that differed slightly from those associated with the Delta variant, which is the most deadly strain of the virus.

“It actually started with a male patient who’s around the age of 33 ... and he said to me that he’s just [been] extremely tired for the past few days and he’s got these body aches and pains with a bit of a headache,” she said. 

She said the patient didn’t have a sore throat but more of a “scratchy throat” and had no cough or loss of taste.

There are currently many unknowns at play , but scientists have said they are working at getting a better understanding of the variant and what it might mean for the pandemic.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said it was still studying the data, suggesting that those infected with the Omicron variant don’t have different symptoms from those who were infected with previous variants. 

“Currently no unusual symptoms have been reported following infection with the variant and as with other variants some individuals are asymptomatic,” said the institute. 

The NICD said while the Omicron lineage shares a few common mutations with the Beta and Delta variants, it also has a number of additional mutations.

“At present, the Omicron lineage is relatively distinct from the Beta and Delta variants and has a different evolutionary pathway,” it said


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