Pending the results of some laboratory tests on the effects of the Omicron variant on vaccines, clinical data are being collected to understand if and to what extent the Omicron variant is really more dangerous than the Delta, which is now dominated everywhere. The first data from South Africa appear to be reassuring but they are certainly not enough, in the opinion of the scientific community, to let the guard down.
Indeed, the level of attention seems to have reached maximum levels.
“The new Omicron variant of the coronavirus causes a mild disease without major symptoms,” said Angelique Coetzee, president of the Medical Association of South Africa, the country from which the variant originates and which has isolated it. However, Dr. Coetzee pointed out that elderly people and people suffering from diseases are still at risk. She claims that the possibility of a new variant had already emerged several days ago, due to the presence in the private clinic she managed in Pretoria of people who presented symptoms that initially did not seem those characteristic of Covid. People of all ethnicities showed up with a sense of fatigue, children with a rapid heartbeat, without anyone presenting one of the most typical symptoms of the new coronavirus infection, that is, the loss of taste and smell.
“Their symptoms were very different and mild from those I had treated previously,” says the president of South African doctors, who has been in the profession for 33 years. On November 18, when four members of the same family with these symptoms tested positive, Coetzee said he notified the scientific committee that coordinates vaccination and treatment policies. A couple of dozen of his patients tested positive, at least half without being vaccinated. Coetzee expressed concern about older people, who are more vulnerable, especially if they suffer from cardiovascular disease or diabetes. According to the head of Israeli public health, Sharon Alroy-Preis, the transmission potential of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 is “very high” but at the same time – he stressed – in cases of vaccinated people the disease is “very light”.
From a virological point of view, with studies to evaluate the effects on vaccinated people, it will take a few days to be able to carry out a series of laboratory tests on animals, and about two weeks will then be needed to review the impact on populations. “A virus with all these mutations could be even less virulent”, said Giorgio Palu ‘president of the Italian Medicines Agency during the “Half Hour Plus” broadcast. “Some colleagues are telling me that these subjects are mainly paucisymptomatic, who have no symptoms such as lack of smell, have headaches, headaches and some feverishness, we’ll see”, added Palu ‘, confirming the African information. And the Italian patient (vaccinated) and his family are fine too.
But in light of the concerns for fragile patients, the invitation to hurry up to take the third dose of the anti-Covid vaccine, and to adopt the “utmost caution” comes from diabetologists, oncologists and cardiologists. “The great majority of Italian diabetic patients, in total about 4 million – affirms the president of the Italian Diabetes Society (Sid) Agostino Consoli on the sidelines of the Diabetic Congress ‘Panorama Diabete’ – have already been vaccinated with the two doses provided for primary cycle and many patients are on the third dose. Our appeal is to hurry, for those who have not yet made the recall “.
Also for Francesco Cognetti, president of the Federation of oncologists, cardiologists and hematologists (Foce), “it is essential to give a decisive impulse to third doses in fragile subjects and in cardiological and oncological patients, in total at least 3-4 million: the need is also confirmed from the data being published by the Regina Elena Institute in Rome which, in more than 500 cancer patients, clearly demonstrate the decline in the antibody rate, up to its zeroing, much faster than the healthy health personnel of the same institute “.