November 29, 2021 

"We hadn't had Covid patients for about eight weeks. A 33-year-old man arrived in mid-November. He had mild symptoms but different from any I'd seen before. I decided to get tested because we were still there. in front of a viral infection. When the fourth member of his family tested positive, with the same light symptoms, a light bulb went on. "

To tell the story, in an interview with Repubblica, is the South African doctor Angelique Coetzee, who on November 18 discovered the new variant, later christened 'omicron' by the WHO. "It's like a switch has flipped. They were symptoms never seen before. When the fourth family member of my first patient also tested positive, I said to myself, something is wrong here. I sent a message to my colleagues at the task force, writing: 'Hey, something is happening here. It is not the Delta variant. It is different.' Our scientists immediately searched for the viral sequences. On Monday, November 22, confirmation arrived: this is a new variant. " The symptoms, explains Coetzee, are "fatigue, headache, itchy throat, mild cold.They did not match the Delta ones we had seen up to ten weeks earlier. We decided to test them because they were similar to those of a viral infection. So far, no Omicron patient has been hospitalized. We have never seen any serious effects. The interesting thing is that the patients with severe pain in the throat were all negative ”.

But what might the large number of mutations found in Omicron entail? "That's just what our scientists are trying to figure out. Now we don't know. Nobody knows. We'll probably have some answers within the next couple of weeks." For the moment, however, "the symptoms are very mild and are the same for vaccinated and non vaccinated. The patients are now very well, and we will retest them shortly. No one has presented any noteworthy problems. And consider that we have arrived at the twelfth day since the discovery . They all recovered quickly, in two to five days. " Finally, as far as contagiousness is concerned, "only the members of the family of patient zero became infected. The other contacts of the positive cases are all negative.We could say that the degree of contagiousness is more or less similar to that of the Delta variant. No more and not too severe ".