Dr. Angelique Coetzee, the chairwoman of the South African Medical Association (SAMA), recently made this revelation. According to the physician, she explained that the panic surrounding omicron was "a storm in a teacup." This did not sit well with several experts in Europe, which led her to adapt her story for the continent.
According to the SAMA chairwoman, she received threats from scientists who told her not to disclose the omicron variant's mild nature. "I then said that omicron is a harmless disease in South Africa and a very serious disease in Europe because I had to tell European politicians that," she said.
Politicians continued to pressure her to exaggerate omicron's severity even though she only followed the World Health Organization's (WHO) guidelines for the definition of a mild disease. Her story does not end there.
Following Coetzee's statement, Dutch virologist Jaap van Dissel dismissed her observations by saying it was "really too early" to tell if omicron was indeed mild. "You don't know yet what new variants are going to emerge after omicron," the head of the Netherlands' Outbreak Management Team told the SAMA chairwoman.
The physician based in Pretoria – one of South Africa's three capital cities – said 99 percent of people who contract the omicron strain had only developed minor symptoms. "It's similar to a cold or the flu," she said.
Coetzee had earlier denounced the over-the-top responses of various countries to omicron, which included travel bans to South Africa. (Related: The Dr. Ardis Show: Dr. Vladimir Zelenko says omicron variant hysteria is overblown – Brighteon.TV.)
"These symptoms presenting in those with omicron are very, very mild compared with those we see with the far more dangerous delta variant. In overreacting to omicron, we are in danger of missing out on the benefits of a variant that could be a friend rather than a foe."
Omicron's milder symptoms have led to claims that this strain could hold the key to ending the pandemic. With symptoms comparable to a bout of influenza or the common cold, many experts said it could bring COVID-19 one step closer to being an endemic disease.
Russian virologist Dr. Anatoly Altstein said during an interview with the tabloid KP that omicron's more than 30 mutations on its spike protein work against it.
"Right now, there are reasons to think that the omicron variant could be less pathogenic. We already see omicron has many mutations – more than 30 in a single gene of its spike protein. This is too many, and it means the virus has an unstable genome. As a rule, this sort of infectious agent becomes less dangerous because evolutionarily, an overwhelming number of mutations leads to a weakening of the virus's ability to cause disease," said Altstein.
A number of health officials have expressed agreement with the Russian virologist that COVID-19 could become an endemic disease with the omicron variant's emergence.
WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr. Hans Kluge said in a Jan. 23 interview that Europe "is moving toward a kind of pandemic endgame," with omicron possibly infecting 60 percent of the continent's population by March 2022. He told Agence France-Presse: "We anticipate that there will be a period of quiet before COVID-19 may come back toward the end of the year, but not necessarily the pandemic coming back."
Marco Cavaleri, head of the European Medicines Agency's Biological Health Threats and Vaccine Safety Division, also shared Kluge's opinion. "With the increase of immunity in [the] population, there will be a lot of natural immunity taking place on top of vaccination. We will be fast moving toward a scenario that will be closer to endemicity," he said during a Jan. 11 press conference.
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Watch the video below of Dr. Peter McCullough discussing the omicron variant with Brighteon.TV host Ann Vandersteel on "Steel Truth."
This video is from the BrighteonTV channel on Brighteon.com.
Pandemic.news has more about the B11529 omicron variant.