While the world is on the lookout for possible surges amid the emergence of the omicron variant, early reports appear to suggest that the newer strain does not really cause the severe form of COVID-19 infection.
WHO Update On Omicron
The World Health Organization has released a new update on the omicron variant, also known as the B.1.1.529 strain. According to the specialized agency of the United Nations, the new mutations in the virus are causing it to behave differently from the previous variants, including delta.
There are ongoing studies on the omicron variant around the world. Since the findings of these studies are still unavailable, it’s too early to tell if the strain is more transmissible. Initial figures presented by medical experts in South Africa, where the variant was first reported, suggested a rise in cases, but it’s unknown if the new cases were caused by omicron or other factors.
The severity of the infection omicron causes is also uncertain at this point. WHO noted that even with the recent surge in hospitalizations in South Africa, there is still no solid evidence to prove that omicron is responsible for the increase. The organization also pointed out that preliminary data does not show a difference in the symptoms associated with omicron from those of the other strains.
Symptoms Of Omicron Infection
Even though there is still no official report on the characteristic symptoms of an omicron infection, anecdotal reports from South Africa-based medical practitioners and experts appear to suggest that the variant only causes mild illness in COVID-19 patients.
In mid-November, the average reported cases per day in South Africa was around 300. By the end of the month, the average climbed up to nearly 2,000 per day. Although local health experts are already sounding the alarm on the possibility of omicron being highly transmissible than other strains, they are also reporting mild manifestations of the disease.
Unben Pillay, a local general practitioner, said at South Africa’s Department of Health online briefing Monday that even if there’s been a “very sharp increase” in cases in the recent weeks, the symptoms experienced by patients had been mostly mild, especially among the vaccinated people, South China Morning Post reported.
The omicron symptoms presented at the briefing are as follows:
- dry cough
- night sweats
- general body pains
There was no mention if the omicron variant does not cause persistent cough and loss of smell and taste like the delta variant. But based on the initial data presented at the briefing, omicron is far from being the next alpha variant, which was found to be more transmissible and was associated with more severe infection than the other strains, as per The Guardian.