Dr. Omar Hamada, an emergency room doctor and former U.S. Army Special Forces lieutenant colonel recently shed light on COVID's Omicron variant, which was labeled as a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organization (WHO) in late November.
WHO reported that the COVID Technical Advisory Group convened on November 26 to assess the Omicron variant, which they saw had a "large number of mutations, some of which are concerning," leading them to conclude that there may be "an increased risk of reinfection" with this variant.
WHO said at the time that Omicron was a "variant of concern" because of its "genetic changes" that affected "transmissibility, disease severity, immune escape, diagnostic or therapeutic escape" and because of its ability to cause "significant community transmission or multiple COVID-19 clusters." But at least one doctor argues that the Omicron variant may offer natural immunity without the dreaded severe illness of COVID.
According to The Epoch Times, Dr. Hamada said during an interview with NTD's "Capitol Report," that the symptoms of COVID's Omicron variant are more like "mild, common cold," as found in those infected in South Africa. He shared, "We're seeing an uptick in [the] number of people affected, the severity of disease seems to be, at this point, minimal."
The ER doctor explained, "If the infectivity is greater, but the virulence or severity is less, this may actually be something good in terms of getting people immune to it without necessarily having to depend on a vaccine that's not incredibly effective."
COVID's Omicron variant has been detected in up to 38 countries as of December 3. In the U.S., it is present in up to 17 states, with 15 cases in vaccinated individuals. One of the cases in the U.S. was confirmed to have recovered from the disease and has natural immunity.
Dr. Hamada cast doubt on the efficacy of current COVID vaccines, arguing that the Omicron variant has "approximately two dozen mutations in that spike protein." White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci himself admitted that scientists need time to determine the impact of Omicron on those who have been infected.
CNBC reported that on Sunday, Dr. Fauci shared that preliminary data on the severity of COVID's Omicron variant is "a bit encouraging," after the analysis of data from South Africa that suggest that "it may not be as bad as initially feared," the report said. Dr. Fauci warned however that more data was needed to create a better picture of what Omicron truly is and what threat is poses to the human race.
Dr. Fauci said that Omicron has a "transmission advantage" in South Africa and it is now "too early to make any definitive statements about it." The White House chief medical advisor said, however, that Omicron "thus far...does not look like there's a great degree of severity to it."
The South African Medical Research Council released a report on Saturday suggesting that COVID's Omicron variant, despite its many mutations may cause a milder infection but it was too early to determine the risk of death from the variant of concern.
South African Dr. Angelique Coetzee, the doctor who found the variant in her patients and alerted authorities about it, indicates that while the symptoms are "unusual," they're quite "mild" and can be treated at home. She said at the time that while it's too early to conclude details about the new variant, it's not a cause for concern and all the hype around it is too much.
Israeli immunologist Prof. Zvika Granot of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem added that while the new variant seems "highly infectious," it "may be not as aggressive" as earlier strains, which means people can get infected with it but end up having natural immunity without the risk of serious illness - just like what Dr. Omar Hamada said.