Doctor Who First Detected Omicron Warns Variant ‘Quite Transmissible’, Says ‘Seen 100 Patients Myself’

South African Medical Association Chairperson, Dr Angelique Coetzee, who was the first to detect the Omicron, on Monday said that the new Covid-19 variant is extremely transmissible.

“It’s quite transmissible; if I look at Delta, it seems less but it’s very transmissible. In South Africa we don’t see severe cases, it’s mostly mild cases,” Dr Coetzee was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Dr Coetzee’s statement comes two days after the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said the delta variant of coronavirus is still the dominant strain circulating among infections in India and Omicron has not replaced it yet.

What it means is that the current Covid-19 measures and vaccines would remain effective. While Omicron cases may increase, it will necessarily not cause a heavy burden on the healthcare system, Dr Samiran Panda, additional director-general of ICMR told the Times of India.

As Omicron cases in India crossed the 100 mark on Friday, Panda said that most of them are travel-related. This picture emerged from samples sequenced so far and more details on Omicron are awaited, he said.

Panda advised people to continue following all Covid-19 protocols as preventive measures and assured that the vaccines are effective. He further said that the current number of Omicron-infected people is too low to draw any conclusions on community transmission of the new variant.

A study by London’s Imperial College has showed that the risk of reinfection with the Omicron coronavirus variant is more than five times higher and has shown no sign of being milder than Delta. “We find no evidence (for both risk of hospitalisation attendance and symptom status) of Omicron having different severity from Delta,” the study said, although it noted that data on hospitalisations remains very limited.

The data analysed was based on 333,000 cases, including 122,062 of Delta and 1,846 which were confirmed as the Omicron coronavirus variant through genome sequencing.

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