Are you worried that your COVID-like symptoms may be the start of an Omicron infection? While different variants are circulating globally, none have been more transmissible than the Omicron variant.
According to the latest report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as shown below, the Omicron subvariants BA.5, BA.4, and BA.2.12.1 are the leading COVID subvariants in the United States.
In the US, 53.6% of COVID infections were caused by the BA.5 variant, 16.5 percent by the BA.4 variant, 27.2 percent by the BA.2.12.1 variant, and 2.8 percent by the BA.2 variant, according to the CDC’s most recent report.
There’s also been an increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. Another CDC report stated that the average number of cases a week has increased to 103,907. This is undoubtedly a massive underestimate as many victims are either not reporting home test results, or are not undertaking tests at all.
Moreover, in a recent COVID-19 media briefing, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Ph.D., said that:
“Globally reported cases have increased nearly 30% over the past two weeks alone. Four out of six of the WHO subregions saw cases increase in the last week.”
He added that BA.4 and BA.5 have caused the latest wave of infections in Europe and the United States.
Symptoms that indicate the start of an Omicron infection
While reports indicate that Omicron is generally a less harmful variant compared to Delta, it is more contagious. In fact, breakthrough infections have skyrocketed since its inception in November 2021. And while it may be considered less harmful in terms of immediate health impacts, it is still too soon to know what the long-term implications of infection may be.
Omicron infections also have a higher prevalence of symptoms than the Delta variant. According to Dr. Adam Ratner, head of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at N.Y.U. Langone:
“BA.4, and BA.5 are more contagious, which means that as more people become ill, both adult and pediatric hospitalizations will rise.”
As explained in an article published by The Mirror, the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants have three mutations to their spike proteins. This makes it easier for them to evade the immunity afforded by vaccines and consequently attack victims’ lungs.
So, what are the early warning signs that it could be the start of an Omicron infection?
Common Omicron symptoms:
- Persistent cough
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Early warning symptoms of an Omicron infection:
- Dizziness or fainting
Least common symptoms of an Omicron infection:
- Night sweats
* The existence of other medical disorders, age, prior infection history, and COVID-19 vaccination status can all impact the occurrence and intensity of the symptoms.
What to do when you test positive for the Omicron variant
If you do test positive for the Omicron variant, don’t panic, especially if you’ve been fully vaccinated. Researchers from the University of Geneva stated in one of their studies that:
“Those who are vaccinated will have antibodies that are far superior to natural immunity alone.”
One of the study’s leading researchers, Isabella Eckerie, also went on to say:
“Omicron can evade existing immunity and cause reinfection, but hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 are still reduced after vaccination. Vigilance is still required, especially as the epidemiological curves have been rising sharply since the appearance of BA.5, the most recent omicron subvariant,”
There are many treatment plans available that can reduce the damaging effects of the disease. The FDA has even approved certain monoclonal antibody and antiviral treatments as per the CDC.
If your infection is only mild, you can recover by simply managing your symptoms at home. Be sure to contact your health care providers and public health organizations to ensure you receive the best care possible. It is also very important to self isolate in order to reduce the spread of the disease.
How to prevent a COVID-19 Omicron infection
The best public health approach to prevent COVID-19 and reduce the possibility of new variations arising is getting fully vaccinated for COVID-19. This includes the initial series, booster shots, and subsequent doses.
The Omicron variant infection is preventable with the help of modern vaccines, which safeguard against serious illness and hospitalizations. If you do develop symptoms similar to an Omicron infection right after vaccination, don’t worry.
Side effects are expected and should last a few days.
CDC continues to collaborate with partners to examine data and samples that could provide crucial information about the Omicron variants.
While we wait for more data, we must take every precaution to guard against contracting the virus. You may reduce the harm and subsequent effects of this virus on you and your loved ones by
- Submitting to a full dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
- Wearing a well-fitting mask whenever you go out
- Getting tested whenever you start to experience any of its symptoms
- Quarantining while waiting for results to be released
If you do test positive, self isolate immediately and contact your local health provider about possible treatment options.
By following the precautions mentioned above, we can contribute to limiting the spread of the virus.
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