Omicron variant could be 'Christmas gift', expert says
The coronavirus pandemic could be ended sooner than first feared thanks to the Omicron variant, a leading epidemiologist has claimed.
This new mutation is believed to have more milder symptoms than all previous variants and could mean coronavirus is treated more like the common cold, according to Mirror.
Statistics from South Africa, where the variant was first detected and sequenced, has shown that there have been no hospital admissions and no deaths from people with Omicron.
Doctors also say people recover from it in just a few days after symptoms including tiredness, headache and muscle aches pass.
South African infectious disease expert Professor Salim Abdool Karim also believes existing Covid vaccines should be “highly effective” against the Omicron variant, although we won't know for a few more weeks as more people become infected.
Professor Abdool Karim said: “Based on what we know and how the other variants of concern have reacted to vaccine immunity, we can expect that we will still see high effectiveness for hospitalisation and severe disease, and that protection of the vaccines is likely to remain strong.”
Professor Abdool Karim, who works at South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal and Columbia University in the United States, said no “red flags” had been raised so far about Omicron.
Professor Karl Lauterbach, a clinical epidemiologist who wants to be Germany's next health minister, has called Omicron a "Christmas gift".
He believes that the 32 mutations on the spike protein could mean it is optimised to infect people, rather than kill.
He added that is in line with how most respiratory viruses evolve and is good that coronavirus has reached this point.
The government was swift to act after the Omicron variant was first detected, bringing in PCR tests and self isolation rules for travellers arriving in the UK until they get a negative result.