Symptoms of the Omicron variant: what we know

The cases with a strong suspicion of contamination by the Omicron variant now represent nearly 9 out of 10 cases according to Public Health France. With over 300,000 new cases diagnosed per day, and certainly many more in reality, the virus is everywhere. What do we know so far about the specific symptoms of this variant?

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Although the variant Omicron appeared very recently, we are beginning to have reliable data on its characteristics. In his weekly epidemiological update of January 7, 2022, Public Health France analyzed 338 confirmed cases of infection with the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. First interesting information, 89% of cases were symptomatic. However, this proportion is undoubtedly overestimated: asymptomatic people are tested much less than symptomatic people. According to one study published on December 14, 2021 involving more than 29 million people, there would be around 40% of asymptomatic people among the cases of coronavirus confirmed, all variants combined. Second important information, the vast majority of cases presented symptoms benign. Only 2% of patients had to be hospitalized and no patient required intensive care. These data confirm the trends of the last few weeks. Even though he is very contagious, the Omicron variant generates less severe cases, requiring hospitalization less often.

Cough, fever, fatigue

In the group of patients studied, 60% presented with severe fatigue (asthenia), 54.6% a cough, and 48.9% of the fever. Other symptoms were also described, but less frequently (from most frequent to least frequent): headache, muscle pain, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath. In contrast, loss of taste and / or smell was present in only 9% of patients.

A Norwegian study dated December 16, 2021 showed that the most frequent symptoms would be cough (83%), nose stuffy (78%), and fatigue (74%) in a group of 89 patients positive for the Omicron variant.

Omicron does not descend into the lungs

From recent data suggest that the Omicron variant has difficulty in infecting the lungs. Hamsters infected with Omicron had a viral concentration in the lungs 10 times lower than that seen with other variants. In vitro, researchers observed that Omicron had difficulty entering lung cells. The variant would rather tend to stagnate in the upper airways, in the nose and throat. Hence the lesser severity of symptoms.

Finally, the symptoms of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus are not specific. The infection may either go unnoticed or be mistaken for a cold or flu. The only way to know if you have the coronavirus is to take a test.

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