Dr. Angelique Coetzee: Unsung Hero

By Shlomo Maital    

Dr. Angelique Coetzee, South Africa

    A single alert, experienced family physician treating patients in South Africa may have (helped) save the world:  According to Bloomberg –

    “People infected by omicron in South Africa are showing very different symptoms to those suffering from the delta strain, said the doctor who alerted government scientists to the possibility of a new variant.   Patients who contracted it complain of fatigue, head and body aches and occasional sore throats and coughs, said Angelique Coetzee, who is also chairwoman of the South African Medical Association. Delta infections, by comparison, caused elevated pulse rates, resulted in low oxygen levels and a loss of smell and taste, she said.    After weeks of almost no Covid patients at her practice in Pretoria, the capital and epicenter of South Africa’s current surge, Coetzee said she suddenly started seeing patients complain of the symptoms on Nov. 18. She immediately informed the government’s Ministerial Advisory Council on Covid-19, and laboratories the next week identified a new variant, she said.

   “I said these different symptoms can’t be delta, they are very similar to beta or it must be a new strain,” she said in an interview on Monday. “I don’t think it will blow over but I think it will be a mild disease hopefully. For now we are confident we can handle it.”

   Let us note her conclusion: “I think it will be a mild disease hopefully”. 

   Let’s hope she is right.  Meanwhile – kudos to Dr. Coetzee!   Superior practice of medicine still involves alert experienced doctors who use their deep intuition and sharp eyes.