THE OMICRON variant is causing a surge in cases in South Africa, increasing fears that it will soon supersede the Delta variant globally. An Israeli doctor, who caught the Omicron variant despite getting three shots of the Pfizer vaccine, has reported his three symptoms.
The UK government is taking a calculated gamble in a bid to stop the Omicron variant from overwhelming the NHS. It is scaling up the vaccination effort but applying only a light touch to restrictions at present. However, there are mounting fears that the Omicron variant will evade the immune response offered by the vaccines.
First-hand accounts are not encouraging. Although his condition has not progressed to serious illness, one fully jabbed doctor has revealed his Omicron variant symptoms.
The Israeli doctor believed he caught the Omicron strain while attending a large medical conference in London.
Speaking exclusively to The Guardian, Elad Maor, a cardiologist at Sheba Medical Centre near Tel Aviv, shared his symptoms.
The doc had already received three doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Doctor Maor has so far shown mild COVID-19 symptoms, including a fever, muscle ache and a sore throat.
He described how he returned to Israel on 23 November after the three-day meeting at ExCeL London, a large convention centre in Newham, east London.
He began experiencing symptoms within days, and tested positive on 27 November.
Speaking to The Guardian, doctor Maor also said he had probably infected a 69-year-old colleague with the virus after flying back from London. The colleague has since tested positive for the Omicron variant.
While it is unclear how and when the doc caught the new variant, he is convinced it happened in the UK.
“I got the Omicron in London, for sure,” he said. “That is interesting because that was 10 days ago in London – really, really early.”
Doctor Maor’s string of symptoms have been echoed elsewhere.
Doctor Angelique Coetzee, a private practitioner and chair of South African Medical Association, flagged the symptoms to expect after encountering them in her patients.
She said they were distinguishable from dominant Delta variant, which is currently sweeping through Europe.
Speaking to Reuters on Monday, she recalled how an infected patient at her clinic reported being “extremely fatigued” for two days with body aches and headache.
“The most predominant clinical complaint is severe fatigue for one or two days. With them, the headache and the body aches and pain.”
Omicron variant – what we know so far
The Omicron variant contains a number of mutations on its spike protein, which sits on the outside of the virus.
It is via the spike protein on the outer lining of the virus that the virus gains entry into the cells of the body
A World Health Organization (WHO) official has said most cases are “mild” so far but this does not mean it will not cause deaths and hospitalisations to skyrocket.
If the variant is more transmissible than Delta, it will go on to infect more people and wider transmission will mean catching greater numbers of the most vulnerable in its net.
Omicron has now been detected in at least 24 countries around the world, according to the WHO.