The first Covid-19 Omicron variant cases have been spotted in Europe after being found in South Africa. As many countries have stopped flights with Southern Africa, new cases are reported daily. After Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and England have reported cases in Europe. The quick spread of the strain worries the health authorities, but what do we know about this new variant to date?
Scientists fear contagiousness even bigger than the Delta variant’s and Omicron’s resistance to vaccines is also a concern, according to the first analyses. As for symptoms, one can only rely on a limited sample of cases, which does not enable to come up to a definitive diagnose. For the time being, people sick only have light symptoms, according to Dr. Angélique Coetzee – head of the Medical Association of South Africa. She speaks The Telegraph of major fatigue but symptoms “lighter than those treated before”.
Sick’s muscles are “painful” and fatigue lasts one to two days. There is no loss of the sense of smell or taste – a now usual Covid symptom. A “light cough” has been found, but Coetzee describes “mild disease”. A diagnosis that is reassuring so far which could mean the variant is more contagious but less severe, and therefore, less deadly. European sick who have tested positive also have only very light symptoms and those vaccinated do not even show symptoms.
This new variant is spreading very quickly and is said to have a spike protein completely different from the Covid-19 strain current vaccines are currently based on, according to the British health agency. “Mutations of this new variant reported on the Spike protein suggest they can get around the vaccine effectiveness. So far, it is a theory and several weeks are necessary to answer the question accurately”, epidemiologist Antoine Flahault told La Dépêche du Midi.