Omicron COVID Strain
The new COVID variant was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana and sparked major concerns due to its high number of mutations (32). The WHO dubbed the strain Omicron and warned it may prove to be more transmissible and dangerous than other coronavirus variants.
Top South African Doctor Says Omicron Dominance Would Be 'First Prize' in COVID Fight
22:02 GMT 06.12.2021 (Updated: 22:07 GMT 06.12.2021)
The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has quickly become the dominant type in Gauteng, the province at the heart of the outbreak, driving other strains to the margins. But while more infectious, the new variant is so far only associated with mild illness.
A senior South African doctor has said it would be a "first prize" if the Omicron variant of COVID-19 out-competed other mutations.
Dr Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association (SAMA), saw some of the first patients with the new variant in her clinic in the capital Pretoria.
"Currently it is unknown whether it would replace Delta," Dr Coetzee said, but added: "If so, it would be a first prize, as we are currently experiencing most cases as mild."
The SAMA chair has previously said the new variant is "extremely mild", with atypical symptoms for COVID-19 such as a scratchy cough and muscle pains — typical of commons colds and flu.
Dr Coetzee said health experts would "know more within then next week or two what the situation regarding severe cases would entail".
And she cautioned that the spread of the micron among unvaccinated people could lead to new and unpredictable strains of the virus emerging.
"If people are not vaccinated, we will most probably see new variants with unknown mutations," Dr Coetzee said.
South African Doctor Says 'Mild' COVID-19 Variant Omicron Already 'Seeded' in UK
28 November 2021, 17:52 GMT
Some political commentators have already speculated that the more competitive yet less virulent strain will become dominant and end the pandemic — along with public lockdowns and other restrictions.
The Omicron variant is now conformed to have spread to 51 countries on all six inhabited continents, despite punitive travel bans imposed by many states on 10 southern African nations.
British Health Secretary Sajid Javid was forced to admit in Parliament on Monday that none of the 336 cases of Omicron in the UK had yet resulted in a hospitalisation.
Conservative MP for New Forest West Sir Desmond Swayne asked Javid in simple terms how many of the 336 identified cases of the Omicron variant in the UK “are ill”
The minister said that while all were by definition “infected”, none had so far been hospitalised.
Public Health England is currently recording around one hospitalisation with COVID-19 for every 60 identified cases in the UK, where the Delta variant is currently the most common.