The newly discovered Omikron variant has kept the global public in suspense for two weeks. Now the South African doctor who discovered her is warning of an overreaction. Dr. Angelique Coetzee reported for the first time about the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus and treated the first infected. In a guest article in the British newspaper “Daily Mail”, she was surprised at the violent reactions in Europe.
Too little is known for strict measures. In South Africa, no fatal effects are noticed yet: “On Sunday there were only eleven deaths related to Covid in South Africa, far less than the weekly average of 578, which was reported at the height of Delta.” The doctor doesn’t think Omicron would be such a deadly variant because then “we would expect the numbers to have skyrocketed, but that just doesn’t happen here.” And: “Nobody here in South Africa has been hospitalized with the Omikron variant, and it is also assumed that nobody here is seriously ill with it.”
“I was stunned by the response,” Coetzee wrote on Twitter. when hasty travel stops were imposed from countries in southern Africa.
Virologists in Europe are still reluctant. The top German virologist Christian Drosten had initially given the all-clear – the eXXpress reported. Whether or not Omikron will actually lead to severe courses less often is also said to be so difficult to answer because in the South African region in which this virus variant first appeared, almost everyone had already been infected with other corona variants. In fact, there shouldn’t be anyone there who hasn’t recovered, which is why everyone has at least weak immune protection. There are hardly any completely unprotected people like in Europe. What is more: unlike in Europe, the proportion of elderly people is significantly lower. At least one thing is currently considered highly likely: Omikron is spreading much faster, not only in South Africa.
Some European politicians are therefore already in a mood of alarm. The Omikron variant is already gaining ground in Great Britain. Citizens have been encouraged to work in the home office since Monday. Parliament is due to vote on a series of corona measures on Tuesday, some of which are already in force.
In South Africa there is currently no sign of this, and further restrictions or lockdowns are not planned, reports the doctor. You have got used to new variants of the coronavirus: “When our scientists confirmed the discovery of another one, nobody made anything big of it. Lots of people didn’t even notice. “
And: A hysteria threatens to miss a chance in the fight against the coronavirus, warns the doctor: “If we overreact, we run the risk of missing out on the advantages of a variant that could be more of a friend than an enemy. A hard lockdown would slow the process of Omikron moving through the population. But this makes it possible to develop vital antibodies that move the population in the direction of ‘herd immunity’. ” Her message to British politics: “Keep calm, make decisions every day and don’t panic, it will only end in chaos.”
In any case, the antibodies seem to work particularly well in two groups of people: in those who have been vaccinated and recovered, and in people who have had booster vaccinations (three stings). This does not seem to protect against infections, but one is best protected in the event of an infection. An “update” of the vaccine, adapted to Omikron, should be available by summer. According to the first data, the antibodies of vaccinated persons are 40 times less effective against Omikron. At Delta, the drop was “only” eight times as much. However, that doesn’t mean vaccination is 40 times less protective. How well it protects against severe courses, even in the case of one or two stings in those who have not recovered, remains to be seen.