Omicron COVID Variant Symptoms Compared to Delta, Other Forms of the Virus

A South African doctor who was one of the first to warn health authorities of the new, highly mutated COVID strain—now labelled Omicron—has said that its symptoms are different from those of other coronavirus variants.

As previously reported by Newsweek, Dr. Angelique Coetzee said she observed the different symptoms in patients who came into her office in Pretoria, South Africa.

Dr. Coetzee said the symptoms she witnessed in patients infected with the Omicron variant, identified as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday, included intense fatigue and a high pulse rate.

What the South African doctor, who chairs the South African Medical Association, said she did not observe is the loss of taste and smell that has been associated with other COVID variants.

This led her to report the seven patients' symptoms to health officials as presenting a "clinical picture that doesn't fit Delta" on 18 November.

"Symptoms at that stage were very much related to normal viral infection. And because we haven't seen COVID-19 for the past eight to 10 weeks, we decided to test," she told Reuters.

The main symptoms of COVID have been high temperature, a new, continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, according to the United Kingdom's National Health Service.

Delta, also identified as a variant of concern by WHO, still accounts for the vast majority of COVID cases across the globe.

The symptoms of Delta do not radically differ from other earlier COVID variants, although sufferers do seem to report higher incidents of headaches. One symptom common to Delta patients was a runny nose, something that was very rarely seen with other variants.

Not only were the symptoms of the variant different, but Dr. Coetzee also pointed out that the Omnicron infections she treated seemed to be milder than those caused by variants like Delta.

"We had one very interesting case, a kid, about six years old, with a temperature and a very high pulse rate, and I wondered if I should admit her. But when I followed up two days later, she was so much better," Dr. Coetzee told The Telegraph with regards to Omicron symptoms.

"What we have to worry about now is that when older, unvaccinated people are infected with the new variant, we are going to see many people with a severe [form of the] disease."

WHO said with regards to these milder Omicron infections that this could be because thus far the majority of infections caused by this variant have been in younger people.

WHO writes on its website: "Initial reported infections were among university students—younger individuals who tend to have more mild disease—but understanding the level of severity of the Omicron variant will take days to several weeks."

WHO added that despite Dr. Coetzee's observations there is currently not enough information to suggest that Omicron symptoms differ from those of other COVID infections.

COVID Mask Netherlands
People line up in the Netherlands after a new COVID variant led to the introduction of soft lockdown measures. The doctor who first brought the variant to the attention of health authorities says its symptoms differ from those of other variants like Delta. Pierre Crom/GETTY