Early data from the UK found that common cold-like symptoms were more common in people infected with the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus.
The ZOE COVID Symptom Study, which tracks symptoms recorded by participants using a smartphone app, reported Thursday that the five most common symptoms for Omicron were runny nose, headache, fatigue, sneezing, and sore throat.
The data was collected between December 3rd and 10th in London, where Omicron became the dominant strain, based on over 52,000 COVID-19 tests.
In contrast to other strains of the virus, symptoms such as fever, cough and loss of smell occurred less frequently. The ZOE analysis found that only 50 percent of patients with Omicron had these three « classic symptoms ».
Hopefully people will now recognize the cold-like symptoms that appear to be the predominant characteristic of Omicron. These are the changes that will slow the spread of the virus, « said Tim Spector, chief scientist at ZOE, in a press release on Thursday.
These results are also consistent with early data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which studied 43 cases of Omicron from December 1-8. The CDC found that coughing, fatigue, and constipation or runny nose were most common symptoms in the cohort, three-quarters of whom were fully vaccinated.
Similarly, Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chairwoman of the South African Medical Association and the first doctor to discover the Omicron variant, said fatigue was one of the most common symptoms she saw, along with headaches, body aches and « scratching ». Throat.
« Most of them see very, very mild symptoms and none of them have had patients undergoing surgery. We were able to treat these patients conservatively at home, » she told Reuters in late November.
A preliminary study by South African researchers also found that the risk of hospitalization after adjustment to the vaccination status was 29 percent lower with the Omicron variant compared to the first virus wave in mid-2020.
However, experts say it’s too early to say if Omicron will be less severe in Canada.
“Most importantly, some country data suggests that this could be a less serious disease. Other country data do not say this, ”said Dr. Dalhousie University infectious disease expert Lisa Barrett told CTV News Channel on Saturday.
Barrett pointed to Denmark, where data has shown hospitalization rates appear to be comparable to other variants of the virus.
A preliminary UK study published Thursday also found « no evidence (for both hospitalization risk and symptom status) that Omicron has any severity level other than Delta, » based on data collected between Nov. 29 and Sept. December in England.
« Even when you’re out of the hospital, I think companies and other people should know that you can be damn sick and still not have to go to the hospital, » Barrett said.
A nurse instructs a man at a testing clinic in Montreal on Wednesday December 15, 2021 how to do a COVID-19 self-test. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Paul Chiasson
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