Experts are racing to learn more about the new strain of Covid-19 virus dubbed Omicron, scary right? Well here’s what you need to know; at least for now, Omicron has been designated as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is more likely to evade detection, less responsive to therapeutics and vaccines. While experts and scientists scramble to know more about the variant and develop mitigating measures, here is a quick summary of the characteristics of the new variant, which subsequently point to its unique symptoms;
Unlike other variants such as Delta, loss of smell and taste is uncommon with Omicron. These are symptoms based on earlier reports and not scientific research studies. However, if you are vaccinated or have had a booster, there are chances that you might not experience symptoms at all. There is no valuable data on how the variant affects unvaccinated people and further studies are needed to ascertain the dynamics.
Omicron does not burrow deep into the lungs, which is why shortness of breath is not among the symptoms. For that reason, it is possible to have normal respiration, experience no shortness of breath but still have the virus. The phenomenon is unique since the Covid-19 virus has always been associated with lung problems which result in difficulty in breathing. So, if you experience incessant coughs, runny nose and fever, there is a chance that you have the Omicron virus, and immediate medication is critical.
What makes Omicron unique and different from other variants? Understanding the unique characteristics of the variant aid in isolating its signs and symptoms. The same is critical in informing and sensitizing the public on the risks and implications of emerging variants.
Scientists are collecting data on the new strain, and little is known about its unique characteristics and other variables, such as its severity level. However, there is a consensus that Omicron is the most transmissible variant, but the transmission rate compared to other variants such as Delta is not yet determined.
Evidence show that Omicron can evade immunity and infect fully vaccinated individuals. Its capacity to infect people who have recovered from Covid-19 caused by other variants such as Delta and who are fully vaccinated confirms the assertion that it is unique and dangerous- “a different ball game.” So, what unusual signs should you watch out for? Based on WHO reports, preliminary research evidence indicates that fully vaccinated people infected by the variant show signs of mild illness similar to the common cold. However, the most common signs that one should look for whether vaccinated or not include;
- Dry cough
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
These symptoms vary from one individual to another. For example, while some infected might experience all of the highlighted symptoms, others only experience three or four of the five symptoms. Consequently, there is a need to seek immediate tests and medical advice if you have any of those symptoms.
Omicron has numerous unique mutations, some of which have not been seen before, making it unresponsive to vaccines and therapeutics. Most of the mutations are on the spike protein, which is the vaccines’ target point, that renders the vaccines ineffective. Due to these unique variations of the variant, there is an argument that it could have slightly different symptoms than Delta. For example, loss of taste and smell has been synonymous with the Covid-19 virus, so expecting to experience a loss of smell to ascertain whether one is infected or not is misleading. Also, young people form a larger percentage of those infected compared to the elderly. Vaccinated people experience milder symptoms, and those with two to three doses of vaccines might not experience any symptoms at all.