South African doctor who discovered Omicron says politicians pressured her not to call it mild

"They are accusing me of lying, of downplaying Omicron because of how it has been in Europe," she said.

Updated: February 10, 2022 - 8:08pm

The South African doctor who discovered the Omicron variant is now speaking out about how politicians and scientists pressured her to not publicly call the new COVID-19 variant a mild illness.

"I was told not to publicly state that it was a mild illness. I have been asked to refrain from making such statements and to say that it is a serious illness. I declined," Dr. Angelique Coetzee told the German newspaper Welt in a recent interview translated by The Epoch Times.

"In South Africa it is a lighter disease, but in Europe it has been a serious, serious illness, which is what the politicians want me to say. There has been a lot of pressure from European scientists and politicians who have said, 'Please don't say it is a mild illness,'" Dr. Coetzee told The Daily Telegraph in another interview this week reported by The Daily Mail.

Dr. Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, in November said the symptoms of Omicron are "extremely mild," with symptoms including "a bit of a headache" and "more of a scratchy" throat.

"I am a clinician, and based on the clinical picture there are no indications that we are dealing with a very serious disease," Dr. Coetzee told Welt. "The course is mostly mild. I'm not saying you won't get sick if you're mild."

"Because of all of Covid's mutations, all of these scientists and politicians who aren't from South Africa were contacting me telling me I was wrong when I spoke out, that it was a serious disease," Dr. Coetzee told the Telegraph. "They were telling me I had no idea what I was talking about, they kept attacking me." 

The Netherlands on Dec. 19, 2021, became the first European country to enter into lockdown due to Omicron. In the United States, Democrat-controlled states imposed stringent new COVID-19 mandates and thousands of schools shut down due to Omicron cases in January.

However, while COVID-19 numbers hit record highs, deaths remained lower than previous waves in America.

"They are accusing me of lying, of downplaying Omicron because of how it has been in Europe," she said in the Telegraph interview. "In their minds, it is impossible for a disease with more than 38 mutations to be mild."

"The definition of mild COVID-19 disease is clear, and it is a [World Health Organization] definition: patients can be treated at home and oxygen or hospitalization is not required," Coetzee reportedly told Welt, explaining: "A serious illness is one in which we see acute pulmonary respiratory infections: people need oxygen, maybe even artificial respiration. We saw that with Delta — but not with Omicron. So I said to people, 'I can't say it like that because it's not what we're seeing.'"

Many Democrat-controlled states are starting to roll back mandates, such as Illinois, California and New York, where mask requirements are being dropped for vaccinated people in most settings.

China, on the other hand, is still operating on a "Zero COVID" policy and admitted to testing millions of people prior to the Olympics.