President of the South African Medical Association – The New Indian Express
Express news service
BENGALURU: With the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus already in India, there is no room for complacency on the part of the population despite the completion of vaccination, as this variant is able to escape to vaccine immunity within four months of completing the vaccine dosing, Dr Angelique Coetzee, president of the South African Medical Association, who first reported the highly mutated variant in South Africa, told the New Indian Express in an exclusive interview.
While the intensity of symptoms with Omicron is less in those who are vaccinated, Dr Coetzee said she observed this ability to evade Omicron’s vaccine immunity from data collected from patients who were positive with this variant.
“We have two major vaccines here (in South Africa): Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. In both cases, the data I collected showed that people who were vaccinated in July with both doses were re-infected or even had a breakthrough infection with Omicron. This means that one cannot be complacent and avoid getting tested if symptoms appear after three months of vaccination, ”she stressed.
She said Omicron patients had “very different” symptoms from those infected with the Delta variant. “I have seen almost 600 patients with the Delta variant, and the symptoms were mainly fever, sore throat, cough, loss of smell and taste, and low saturation. But at Omicron, none of that exists. These are mainly body aches, severe headaches, myalgia and fatigue. A test after 24-48 hours for these symptoms is important. If you test early, there are chances of testing false negatives, ”she said.