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Top doctor says Omicron likely to cause ‘mild disease’ in vaccinated people


One of the Australia’s top doctors has shared some ‘reassuring’ news about Omicron health experts learn more about the new COVID-19 strain.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Sonya Bennett told Sunrise that although the variant appears to be highly-transmissible, “early indications are that it does appear to be a mild illness, particularly in vaccinated individuals.”

Watch the full interview in the video player

The new strain emerged in South Africa last week and has now been detected in multiple countries, including Australia.

Dr Sonya Bennett says Omicron appears to cause a ‘mild disease.’
Dr Sonya Bennett says Omicron appears to cause a ‘mild disease.’ Credit: Sunrise

“If the vaccination continues to protect against severe disease, and there’s no indication that it won’t, then we’re well placed in Australia with our high vaccination coverage rates,” Dr Bennett explained on Tuesday.

She said that it will take a few weeks for experts to analyse real-world data on how much of a problem the strain may turn out to be.

“What we really want to know about this virus, and what we should understand in the coming weeks, is how severe the clinical illness is that it causes and whether vaccines will continue to protect against that severe illness.”

Five cases of the new variant have been found in Australia.
Five cases of the new variant have been found in Australia. Credit: Getty Images

Dr Bennett said the only thing that made Omicron a “variant of concern” was the rate of infection, and that the virus could actually be less potent than Delta, which spread rapidly throughout the world earlier this year.

“The concerning thing, and why it’s been nominated as a variant of concern, is because it does appear to be highly-transmissible and highly infectious,” she explained.

“If a virus does spread rapidly then there’s every chance that it could replaced Delta as the dominant variant, so we really need to understand the impact of that.”



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