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Omicron variant probably doesn’t cause severe symptoms, expert says

The omicron variant of the coronavirus might be linked to mild symptoms

SHARE Omicron variant probably doesn’t cause severe symptoms, expert says
Medical staff at the Westerstede Clinical Center.

Medical staff watches beside an intubated COVID-19 patient at the intensive care unit at the Westerstede Clinical Center, a military-civilian hospital in Westerstede, northwest Germany, Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.

Martin Meissner, Associated Press

There’s no sign right now that the omicron variant of the coronavirus creates severe COVID-19 symptoms, according to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

  • Gottlieb said the omicron variant is likely more transmissible, but it might not lead to more severe illness.
  • “There’s no indication that it causes more severe illness. What we’ve seen in South Africa in particular, is a decoupling between the cases and hospitalizations,” Gottlieb said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

Gottlieb said South Africa has seen major drop-offs in hospitalizations compared to previous waves, which could be a sign of immunity from earlier infections or vaccinations.

  • The omicron variant “is going to blow its way through the population, probably very quickly, when you look at what happened in South Africa and even what’s happening in the U.K. right now, where it’s moving very fast. But we do face a hard four to six weeks ahead of us, as is most of the population,” he said.

It’s too soon to tell what the full extent of the omicron variant will be. Higher transmissibility means there will be more cases, which will lead to a rise in hospitalizations and deaths.

But some early research suggests the omicron variant has caused fewer severe COVID-19 symptoms compared to previous coronavirus variants, as I wrote for the Deseret News. The omicron variant has reportedly led to fewer hospitalizations, too, which has been seen as a positive sign for most experts.

Scientists and health officials still recommend people get vaccinated against COVID-19. And, if they are vaccinated, people should get the COVID-19 booster shot.