Since the beginning of the Covid–19 pandemic, the world has witnessed several variants of the virus and it continues to evolve and mutate. On November 26, 2021, WHO reported the new variant of SARS-COV-2, Omicron, a variant of concern. The main Covid19 symptoms are still cough, fever, and loss of smell and taste, while the signs for the Omicron variant are a lot similar to that of the common cold. Although there is a lot to be learned about the new variant, here are some things we already know.
What are the symptoms of Omicron?
Company ZOE and Kings College of London started a Covid-19 symptom tracking app that collected data from over 4,000,000 users. The top five reported symptoms for those who tested positive were runny nose, sneezing, fatigue, headache, and sore throat. The data showed that symptoms of infection induced by Omicron were similar to cold symptoms like runny nose and headache. Scientists also noted that symptoms of loss of smell and taste were less commonly seen amongst recently tested positive.
Though these are said to be the common symptoms of the new variant, other research has shown different conclusions. A small study conducted in Norway found that cough was the most common symptom associated with the new variant. At the same time, South Africa listed nasal congestion, lower back pain, dry cough, and sore throat as the most common symptoms.
Though these are common symptoms, they can vary from person to person. If one is experiencing any cold symptoms, it is best to isolate oneself and get tested immediately.
Are Omicron symptoms different from other variants?
“This virus has changed, and it’s constantly throwing up curveballs,” says Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From a recent Omicron outbreak in Nebraska, it was noted that five people were reinfected. Four of these individuals reported a loss of smell and taste in the first infection, while they did not report these symptoms during their second infection. One of the reasons for symptoms to differ might be because it affects the upper respiratory tract.
“We are seeing more and more studies pointing out that Omicron is infecting the upper part of the body. Unlike other ones, the lungs who would be causing severe pneumonia,” says WHO Incident Manager Abdi Mahamud.
Is the Omicron variant milder than other variants?
Data from early findings suggested a reduced risk of hospitalizations for Omicron compared to Delta. Despite these findings, the WHO said Omicron should not be dismissed as “mild .”While there appears to be a reduced risk in the severity of the disease, uncertainties remain. Preliminary evidence had suggested that there might be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron. The Omicron variant is also more contagious and spreads faster than other variants. Thus one cannot take the variant lightly.
Preventive measures to prevent infection
Like every other Covid 19 variant, the best way to prevent a possible infection is to make sure that you are wearing masks every time you step out of your house, frequently washing your hands, following Covid appropriate behavior, avoiding large gatherings, and meeting people who are sick, and making sure you and your loved ones are vaccinated with both doses. If you are feeling ill and experiencing any kind of symptoms, immediately isolate yourself to prevent further infections and protect your family and friends.