Medically Reviewed on 3/30/2022
The most common symptoms of the Omicron variant are similar to the symptoms caused by other COVID variants, such as the following.
The Omicron variant, designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the “variant of concern,” continues to be the dominant variant worldwide.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common symptoms of the Omicron variant are similar to the symptoms caused by other variants including:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Skin rash
- Loss of taste and smell
- Generalized body ache
- Redness of the eyes
What is the Omicron variant?
Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) is the latest SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) variant. It was first identified in South Africa on November 24, 2021. It has numerous (over 30) mutations in critical parts of its spike protein alone and about 50 mutations in the entire genome, which is considered the highest number of mutations found in the spike protein of the original virus.
Characteristics of the Omicron variant include:
- Symptoms are generally less severe than other variants of COVID-19.
- It has a faster replication rate than other variants (more transmissible).
- It has the potential to escape antibody protection post-COVID-19 (caused by other variants) and vaccination.
How does the Omicron variant spread?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Omicron variant can evade immunity, has a higher ability to infect, and spreads more easily than the original virus that causes COVID-19, including the Delta variant. A person infected with the Omicron variant can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or are asymptomatic (do not have symptoms).
Person-to-person transmission occurs through:
- Droplets or aerosol transmission: The most common way of transmission is through aerosols that carry tiny virus particles in the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks. Anyone present within a six-feet distance can breathe the virus into their lungs.
- Airborne transmission: Viruses can live up to three hours in the air. It can infect someone who breathes in the air that is breathed out by an infected person.
- Surface transmission: Research reports that the virus can live on surfaces such as plastics and steel for two to three days. You may get infected if you touch a contaminated surface.
- Fecal–oral transmission: It is speculated that the virus can spread through an infected person’s stools, but it is not yet proved.
How to treat the Omicron variant
Omicron infection generally causes less severe disease than infection with prior variants, and the majority of infected people have mild to moderate disease although some may need hospitalization and could die from the infection with this variant.
Most people with mild to moderate disease can be managed at home under proper medical guidance. They must take the medications as advised, stay hydrated, have nutritious food, and self-isolate to prevent infecting others.
Management of the Omicron variant may include:
- Oxygen supplementation
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, particularly ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, and mefenamic acid
- Monoclonal antibody treatments
- IL6 receptor blockers
How do you prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Getting vaccinated and wearing a mask are the best options to protect people from COVID-19 and reduce the likelihood of severe disease.
Follow these guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent infection and control the spread of COVID-19:
- Wash your hands often, for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
- Maintain a distance of at least six feet or one meter from others.
- Cover your face and nose while sneezing or coughing.
- Wear a proper-fitted mask in crowded places or poorly ventilated areas.
- Avoid touching your nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean and sanitize the areas of frequent touch such as doorknobs.
- Get vaccinated as early as possible.
Can you get COVID-19 more than one time?
Yes, a person can get reinfected with the COVID-19 virus (including the Omicron variant) although they may be protected from a second infection through antibody production.
However, a rapid decline in antibody levels may not necessarily protect or prevent a second infection.
Medically Reviewed on 3/30/2022
Image Source: iStock Images
Omicron Variant Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/omicron-variant.html
What we know about the Omicron variant UNICEF: https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/what-we-know-about-omicron-variant
COVID Omicron Variant: What You Need to Know Johns Hopkins Medicine: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/covid-omicron-variant-what-you-need-to-know
The COVID-19 Omicron Variant WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/lung/covid-omicron-variant#1
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