Israel’s chief of public health services, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, warned Sunday that the potential for infection with the COVID variant omicron is “very high,” but stressed that in cases where vaccinated people were infected they became only slightly ill.
Speaking at a Knesset meeting, she gave the example of a flight from South Africa to the Netherlands, where 62 out of 600 passengers were found to be infected. “This is very, very fast,” Alroy-Preis said.
According to the South Africa Medical Association, people infected with the omicron variant have shown only mild symptoms. Angelique Coetzee, SAMA’s chairwoman, told the BBC that the cases identified so far are not severe. However, she noted that research on the omicron variant is still in its initial stages. As of Sunday, only 24 percent of the people in South Africa have been fully vaccinated, she added.
According to the report, omicron patients tended to be younger, and the variant was not found as often among the older population. Those infected with the variant mainly experienced fatigue and body aches. Still, it is still unknown what effect infection has on the older adults with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.
Prof. Dror Mevorach, head of the coronavirus department at Hadassah University Hospital Ein Karem, said the preliminary reports on the clinical condition of people infected with the new variant are encouraging. “If it continues this way, this might be a relatively mild illness compared to the delta variant, and paradoxically, if it takes over, it will lead to lower infection rates,” and it will be easier to deal with globally.