Wednesday, January 19, 2022

2 charts showing how Omicron’s symptoms differ from Delta and previous coronavirus variants

  • Sore throat and runny nose are common in people who have received the Omicron vaccine.
  • But there are fewer cases of fever, cough, and loss of taste or smell in Omicron patients.
  • The chart below shows which omicron traits are most common, and how they compare to previous variants.

Almost as soon as Omicron began to spread, doctors noticed slight differences in their patients’ symptoms relative to prior forms. Mild, cold-like symptoms such as sore throat, sneezing and runny nose were rapidly returning to normal – but pre-COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough and loss of taste or smell had subsided.

“The most commonly reported symptoms of Omicron are actually those of a cold, especially in people who have been vaccinated,” Dr. Claire Steves, a scientist with the Zoe COVID Symptom Study, said in a recent video.

The Zoe study uses a smartphone app to log how hundreds of thousands of people across the UK are feeling every day. It provides a comprehensive look at how COVID-19 symptoms have changed during the pandemic – in particular, with the advent of the Delta and Omicron variants.

The following chart shows how Omicron’s traits compare to its predecessors based on data collected by the Zoe app.

Runny nose, headache, fatigue, sneezing and sore throat were the top five symptoms in the UK among people who registered a positive COVID-19 test in the past few weeks. Meanwhile, only 44% of those in that group reported a persistent cough and 29% reported a fever. Loss of taste or smell was even less common, as the chart below shows.

While the data does not differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated people, 70% of the UK population has had at least two vaccine doses as of Thursday.

Omicron cases often begin with a sore throat, headache, and congestion.

Dr. Jorge Moreno said he has recently seen an influx of COVID-19 cases at his outpatient clinic in Connecticut. Most of those patients are vaccinated, he said, so their symptoms are mild and relatively short-lived.

Many patients start with dryness, roughness in the throat which causes severe pain when swallowing.

“It’s a very prominent symptom,” Moreno, an assistant professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine, told Insider. “It’s not like a little tickle in the throat. If they’re reporting it, they’re saying their throat feels raw.”

A sore throat is often accompanied by sinus congestion and headache, he said, followed by a cough a day or so later. In a December news briefing, Ryan Noach, CEO of Discovery Health, South Africa’s largest private health insurer, said that Omicron patients typically first complain of a sore throat, followed by a runny nose, dry cough and body sneezing. I have pain.

“The cough is still part of the symptoms, [but] It’s not as bad as it was,” Moreno said. Those vaccinated, “they don’t have as many respiratory symptoms.”

sore throat covid

Dr. Carlos Ramirez conducts an exam at Juan Perez, 50, on May 12, 2020 in Oakland, California.

Jessica Christian/The San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images

Loss of smell is also relatively rare in Omicron patients.

As of this month, less than 20% of people in the UK who recorded a positive COVID-19 test were reporting this symptom to the Zoe app. Back in June, when the Delta variant was dominant in the UK, loss of smell was the sixth most common COVID-19 symptom in fully vaccinated people. In March, before Delta was discovered and vaccines were widely available, 60% of UK adults aged 16 to 65 on the Zoe app reported a loss of smell at some point in their illness.

In contrast, fatigue is becoming more pronounced in outpatients, who often report feeling tired and achy, Moreno said.

“I’ve noticed that a lot of people are reporting fatigue as one of their main symptoms,” he said. “They’re young people who can usually move things along. They need rest. They need to sleep. They’re taking more naps.”

Why are the symptoms of COVID-19 changing?

sneezing runny nose tissue

A woman uses a handkerchief on February 27, 2020 in Brandenburg, Germany.

Patrick Pleul/Picture Alliance/Getty Images

Scientists aren’t exactly sure why COVID-19 symptoms are changing.

Vaccines help reduce disease severity, but Omicron itself may be a less virulent virus. Two recent laboratory studies, which have not been peer reviewed, suggest that Omicron may be less effective at attacking lung cells than the former variant. Another non-peer-reviewed study published Wednesday found that Omicron naturally reduced the risk of serious hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by 25% compared to Delta.

Omicron can also change the way the virus replicates or collects in the body. A December study from the University of Hong Kong, which has not been peer-reviewed, found that omicrons replicate 70 times faster in the main airway, or bronchi, than in the delta, but 10 times slower in lung tissue. Another preprint study, released earlier this month, showed that the viral load from an Omicron infection peaks in saliva one to two days before a peak in nasal inflammation — a sign that Omicron is infecting the nose. can infect the throat before

Nevertheless, doctors have observed a clear gradient of symptoms depending on a person’s vaccination status.

“People who haven’t been vaccinated go through a slightly longer and harder course,” Moreno said. “People who are vaccinated have a middle ground. Aged people, in many cases it’s almost like a chronic cold: sinus symptoms, sore throat.”

Before Omicron, Moreno said, his COVID-19 patients had abdominal pain for about 10 to 14 days. More recently, he said, people who have received a booster shot report fewer bouts of the disease than those who have received a lower dose, or none at all.

“In individuals who have an increase, within seven days of the onset of their symptoms, their energy level returns,” he said. “Their symptoms have resolved.”

Nation World News Desk
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