It seems like every time we think we have turned a corner in defeating the coronavirus, a new variant rears its ugly head. The Omicron Covid-19 variant, which is believed to have originated in South Africa, has now been detected in more than 19 states in the U.S. While researchers continue to study the seriousness of Omicron, health experts have come up with a list of symptoms that accompany the new variant, and warn that people should not ignore them, or mistake them for those of a common cold.
Too Soon To Tell
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Omicron variant to be a concern last month. As scientists continue to research this version of Covid, they have seen some similarities between it and the common cold, but so far, all experts are sure of is that the genetic makeup of the Omicron variant is different from other Covid-19 strains. They believe that it is not as severe as the Delta variant, but health officials say it is too soon to tell if Omicron infections are milder than those of other forms of the coronavirus. There are, though, some symptoms that health officials say people should take seriously if they experience them.
Two of the major symptoms that have been seen in those who have contracted Omicron are fatigue and body aches: in fact, with this variant, people have reported being fatigued over other Covid symptoms, such as loss of taste and smell. Symptoms can be different among infected individuals, but so far what has been noted is that symptoms are milder, and include:
- Pain across different muscle groups
- Feeling extremely tired or fatigued
- Scratchy throat
- Respiratory failure
- Body chills
- Shortness of breath
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Researchers and doctors note that the range of symptoms depends on the person’s vaccination status, age, and health history. Unvaccinated people can experience more severe symptoms.
Omicron Is Spreading Fast
So far, from what has been seen over the last month and a half, the Omicron variant seems to spread at a faster rate than past variants. Researchers speculate this might be due to how the virus’ protein has mutated. “Estimates based on experience in South Africa allow scientists to postulate that the Omicron variant is at least three times more infectious than original versions of SARS-CoV-2,” says Dr. Nicholas Kman, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center “It may be possibly more contagious than the Delta variant, though [Delta] remains the dominant strain in the U.S., so it’s unclear if this is the case.”
In the meantime, doctors and health officials continue to urge Americans to get vaccinated to best protect themselves from Covid and its variants.