Whereas the world was busy making different plans, Omicron had already begun its quiet evolution. Now scientists are frantically learning the mysterious new variant so we are able to perceive what we’re preventing.
Day-after-day for the final week, Thumbi Ndung’u and his crew of researchers have spent hours inside a room with the world’s most feared coronavirus variant.
Within the worst-case situation, this evolution might imply a extra transmissible model of COVID-19, with the power to evade present vaccines.
For Professor Ndung’u, a Harvard-educated virologist from the Africa Well being Analysis Insitute in Durban, none of that’s sure till he and his colleagues do their work.
“What we’ve got been doing up to now is speculate,” he stated. “It is a crucial subsequent step.”
Angelique Coetzee, a GP at a household apply in Pretoria, was among the many first to lift the alarm over Omicron with South African authorities final month.
Up to now, Dr Coetzee estimates she has seen about 30 sufferers contaminated with Omicron come via her clinic.
Her expertise with Omicron is anecdotal, however she does have trigger for cautious optimism.
“Nearly all of sufferers that we’re seeing have gentle signs,” she stated. “A lot of the adults will telephone us [after they recover] and say they’re so a lot better. This isn’t one thing that you’d see with the Delta variant.”