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India likely to see Omicron surge government on its ‘don’t blame us later’ mode : Doctor who detected variant

India is likely to see a surge in Omicron cases, but the infection will hopefully be mild in most people, says Dr Angelique Coetzee, who first identified the variant.

India will see a surge in Omicron-driven Covid cases and a high positivity rate, but the infection will hopefully be mild in most people as is being seen in South Africa, says Dr Angelique Coetzee, who first identified the variant.

The chairperson of the South African Medical Association also said existing vaccines will definitely control the contagion but those unvaccinated are at 100 per cent “risk”.

“Existing vaccines will greatly help reduce the spread of the Omicron variant,” Coetzee told PTI in a phone interview from Pretoria.

In the case of a vaccinated person or one who has had a history of being infected by Covid-19, it will spread to fewer people, she said, adding that unvaccinated people will potentially spread the virus 100 per cent.

“Existing vaccines would greatly help to reduce the spread, as we know that you would spread only about 1/3 if vaccinated or had a previous history of being infected by Covid, while unvaccinated people will potentially spread the virus 100 per cent,” she said.

According to the South African expert, who first brought the Omicron variant to the world’s notice, the Covid pandemic is yet to be over and will become endemic in the days to come.

She disagreed with the opinion of some experts that Covid is heading towards an end with the advent of Omicron, which as of now is comparatively a weaker variant of coronavirus.

“I do not think so. I believe it will be difficult [for the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic to end soon]. I presume it will become endemic,” she predicted.

“India will see a surge in Omicron-driven Covid-19 cases and simultaneously there will be a high-positivity rate. But hopefully the majority of the cases will be as mild as what we are seeing here in South Africa,” she added, as India on Saturday reported 415 cases of the Omicron variant.

Of these, 115 have recovered or migrated, according to the Union Health Ministry data.

In Coetzee’s view, any virus which grows out of control will potentially be a threat to humans.

Discussing the character of the Omicron strain of Covid that is spreading fast across the world and has dampened year-end festivities in many parts of the country, Coetzee said it attacks “warm bodies” and is also infecting children.

“…for now, Omicron is not threatening but it is fast spreading with a high infectivity rate, but less severe cases in hospitals. The virus’ sole purpose is to infect a warm body and to survive. And yes, children are also being infected by it, but they are recovering in an average of five-six days,” she said.

Can the Omicron variant again mutate and change its character? “Yes, it might mutate in the future to be more deadly, or it might not,” she said.

The 61-year-old medical practitioner also held that human behaviour such as wearing masks as well as following safety protocols for Covid-19 will play a huge role in controlling the transmission of Omicron

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