With the World Health Organisation (WHO) categorising the Omicron strain of COVID-19 as a 'variant of concern', all major countries, including India, have tightened air travel regulations for international fliers as a precautionary measure. The uncertainty around the new variant has riled up health authorities, impacted stock markets and triggered panic among people across the world.Amid all this chaos, Dr Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, has made a key observation concerning the Omicron variant.Based on her assessment of 30 individuals infected with the Omicron variant, Dr Coetzee has concluded that the symptoms of the new strain are unfamiliar but mild. She told AFP that those infected with the new variant are complaining of 'extreme tiredness'. The Pretoria-based doctor added that the patients had mild muscle aches, a scratchy throat, and dry cough but only a few had a slightly high temperature.Dr Coetzee has said that the symptoms of the Omicron strain are different from other variants, which give more severe symptoms. However, she quickly added, "We are not saying that there will not be severe disease coming forward... but for now, even the patients that we have seen who are not vaccinated have mild symptoms."In another observation, Coetzee said she is certain that a lot of people in Europe already have the new variant. She added, "It's unfortunate that Omicron had been hyped as an extremely dangerous variant with multiple mutations while its virulency is still unknown."The Omicron variant that was first detected by South African researchers has now spread to several South African and some European nations. Israel and Australia have also reported cases of the new variant. "We will see a rise in cases," Coetzee pointed out.Earlier, the WHO had warned that the Omicron variant has an increased risk of reinfection and may spread more rapidly than other strains, including Delta. The WHO also said that it is yet to be seen if existing vaccines will be effective against the highly-mutated Omicron variant. According to preliminary evidence, the variant has more than 30 mutations — around twice as many as the Delta variant — making it more transmissible. However, South African virologists have said that it is positive news “if the omicron variant is less pathogenic but with greater infectivity”.Meanwhile, early research to find out if existing vaccines will work against the Omicron variant has revealed that vaccines are likely to shield infected people against severe illness and death but booster doses may be needed to protect most of the people.Nonetheless, several drugmakers — including Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, have announced that they will make tweaks to their existing vaccines to ensure greater protection against the new variant.