In this interview with internationally renowned Dr Shankara Chetty from South Africa, Jean-Pierre Kiekens from Covexit.com discusses the Omicron variant, which is taking the world as a storm. Is this variant to be feared, or could it actually be a positive development in this pandemic, as mostly inducing mild disease, yet conferring post-covid natural immunity? These are among the timely and critically important aspects we discuss.
Dr. Chetty is a Family General Medical Practitioner in South-Africa, with considerable experience with the outpatient treatment of COVID-19, having treated so far nearly 8,000 patients, in his outpatient practice, without any deaths or any need of hospitalisation or even oxygen. Dr. Chetty holds a degree in medicine and surgery and also has advanced education in genetics, advanced biology, biochemistry and microbiology.
Here are salient points made by Dr. Chetty in the interview. Please refer to the video interview for the original wording.
1. There is little to fear from Omicron, as it is a mild variant, and there is no reason to panic. Omicron does mostly induce mild disease, and as proof, in South Africa, there is no increase in hospital and ICU admissions, despite the increase in cases.
2. The symptoms of Omicron are very different from those of Delta. “There are no respiratory symptoms per se.” Patients “have a sore throat on the first day” which resolves completely by the second or third day. “The overriding symptoms they present with are fatigue and headaches.” “Those are the main symptoms we see with Omicron.”
3. In terms of early treatment, “we treat it initially as a viral infection … and we watch for resolution.” “In the first days, I tend to treat symptomatically … generally we use anti-inflammatories” says Dr. Chetty, who also continues to warn his patients for a possible (even if rare) worsening on day 8, for which his 8th day therapy, with corticosteroids, antihistamines, montelukast, etc. is then applicable.
4. As for day to day life for the common person, in terms of preventative behaviour, Dr. Chetty suggests to possibly do some limited social distancing, avoid large groups, yet he indicates further in the interview that sooner or later, about everyone will get Covid. “The probability of getting Covid during this pandemic is nearly 100% – you will probably never be able to avoid it.” Dr. Chetty further states that later variants to Omicron may not be as mild. “So, it’s best you chose your variant carefully.” “Now, we have a mild variant; I guess it’s time to make some choices.”
5. Regarding post-Covid natural immunity, “whatever immunity Omicron confers, it will definitely be broader and more effective than any of the current vaccines.” “So you have a choice: do you get your immunity through an ineffective vaccine, or do you get your immunity through a mild variant of the natural virus.”
6. Regarding reports of re-infections, Dr. Chetty indicates: “it’s the first time I see unvaccinated people who have had Covid in the past getting re-infected.” “There is a slightly higher risk of re-infections” … but these are “very mild re-infections.”
7. As far as the booster shots, recommended in a number of countries as a response to Omicron, Dr. Chetty sees this response as “nonsensical.” “I think it’s absolutely nonsensical” he says. “Omicron causes mild illness, and does not result in hospitalization or death. The vaccines, the only thing they have shown some benefit in, is to prevent severe disease and death. Omicron does not cause severe disease or death; it causes mild illness…. I don’t see the point to mass vaccinate the population to prevent severe disease and death from a variant that does not cause severe disease and death.” “And of course, notwithstanding that the vaccine can have severe side effects…” “The risk of the virus/variant does not warrant to take such a risk as a mass vaccination campaign.” “So it’s nonsensical” He adds: “a booster dose immunity is transient, unlike Omicron infection, where Omicron gives you a long lasting immunity.”
8. As for the hospital crisis predicted in a number of countries, he says: “In all the 8000 patients I have had, I have had no death. I have had no hospitalization. And I have had no need to have oxygen in my practice.” “Early outpatient treatment has the ability not only to stop all the hospitalizations but to curb all the mortality and morbidity that we have seen.”
9. Regarding early treatment, he says: “I can’t understand why early treatment was not instituted from the start. When you deal with any illness, you treat the sick patients first… You do everything you can to treat that patient. You don’t abandon the patient and says, when you worsen, you go to hospital.”
10. Regarding politicians: “If we were dealing with politicians that are simply ignorant to the science, then it would be easy for me to talk logic and get them to understand what’s required.” “But unfortunately, it seems that the ignorance has an agenda. That makes it more difficult to change. Every time you show science, the agenda tends to override the science.” “I am not in the business of attempting to convert donkeys into horses.”
11. About herd immunity: “Vaccination is not a way to get us out of the pandemic.” “Simply, if we treated every person, and every person survived a Covid illness, we would get to herd immunity. And the patients that are not at risk and can be treated easily, are going to form the base of that herd immunity. So why are we locking them up and why are we attempting to vaccinate them out of this? We should be allowing those who are not at risk to actually come in contact with Covid and form the base of that herd immunity. That is what is going to protect our senior citizens, those at risk, with those not at risk being the majority in the pool of herd immunity.”
12. To conclude, after several cautionary remarks, he says that “If Omicron is the variant that will bring us to herd immunity, then that bodes well for the end of the pandemic.” “Pandemics tend to naturally evolve towards milder variants that are more contagious. That is what we have seen with Omicron. This drives the virus into endemicity.” “I think Omicron is a Godsend.” “We have spent two years disregarding natural immunity, and this has been to our detriment.” “Let’s not make the same mistake and disregard Omicron.”
This interview is conducted by Jean-Pierre Kiekens, an Oxford graduate and former university lecturer, who presents opinions, news and independent policy analysis about the pandemic with focus on early treatments on his Covexit.com blog here: