Omicron: New variant, different disease symptoms

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Pain in the limbs and extreme fatigue – that’s how Angélique Coetzee, chairwoman of the South African Medical Association, describes the cases of infection with the new Omicron variant detected so far in her home country. She says symptoms are “mild but unusual,” with none of the patients so far complaining of loss of smell or taste, for example.

“There is currently no evidence for a change in disease severity,” said Christian Drosten, chief virologist at Berlin’s Charité hospital, as well. However, he said, it is too early to make serious statements about the course of the disease in the mutant variant.

“You need a lot more data for that. That won’t be for a few weeks at the earliest,” confirms virologist Christoph Steininger. He also says there are still unanswered questions about the delta variant. Like Coetzee, however, he assumes that the disease could be more severe in older people with risk factors. “Anything else would be surprising.”

Young population
For an analysis, he said, several factors must be considered. The extremely young age structure of the South African population – only 5.5 percent are older than 65 – could skew the picture.

“We’re seeing it in the younger generation, not the elderly,” said Coetze, who treated the first patients with Omikron in mid-November. Over the past 10 days, she said, she has screened dozens of people. Most were young men under 40, some with slightly elevated temperatures. All have recovered without having to go to the hospital, she said.

In addition, most of the people infected in South Africa had already recovered from another variant and had some immune protection.

What is known so far about those infected with Omicron in Europe is consistent with the reports from the South African Medical Association: They, too, have shown mild to no symptoms so far.

  • source: kurier.at/picture: pixabay.com
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