The World Health Organization said 89% of those with confirmed omicron infections in Europe reported symptoms common with other coronavirus variants, including cough, sore throat, fever. The variant has mostly been spread by young people in their 20s and 30s in the region, WHO Europe regional director Dr. Hans Kluge said.
Although much remains unknown about omicron, Kluge said it appears to be more infectious than previous variants, leading to "previously unseen transmission rates" in countries with a significant number of omicron cases. In those countries, cases of the variant are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days.
Early research has found no clear difference in the symptom profile of the delta and omicron variants, according to scientists with the ZOE COVID study, which analyses thousands of Covid symptoms uploaded to an app by the British public.
Their top 5 symptoms:
1. Runny nose
3. Fatigue (mild or severe)
5. Sore throat
About half of the responders experienced the classic three symptoms of fever, cough, or loss of smell or taste.
Most of the contributors to the ZOE study were vaccinated and did not experience severe illness or require hospitalization.
The first U.S. case of COVID-19 attributed to the Omicron variant was detected on December 1, 2021.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says most commonly reported symptoms linked to omicron so far are cough, fatigue, and congestion or runny nose.
The experts caution that it will take many more weeks to collect enough data to be sure, but their observations and the early evidence offer some clues.
This evidence is murky because many documented cases have been among people who are vaccinated and people who have prior infection, which may dramatically reduce the risk of severe illness, according to the ABC News Medical Unit.
Also, mild cases in one country may not translate to the same in the U.S. The delta variant, for example, turned out to be much more deadly in America than in the U.K., the Medical Unit reported.
Symptoms will not be the same for everyone, and the only way to diagnose COVID-19 is through testing.
What can you do to protect yourself and others?
"The unvaccinated are really quite vulnerable to getting infected and getting into serious trouble," Dr. Anthony Fauci told Eyewitness News anchor Liz Cho during a recent interview.
He added that boosting with the current vaccines is the best path to protect against severe disease.
Fauci said while there is always risk of breakthrough cases, those infections should not lead to severe illness.
1. If you are experiencing symptoms, get tested but also isolate yourself.
2. If you live in an area experiencing high rates of infection, consider staying home and reducing social contact.
3. Get fully vaccinated, including the booster.
4. Wear a mask in crowded places and indoors.
5. Improve your immune health with small changes to your diet.
Additional information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
How easily does Omicron spread?
The omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and how easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta remains unknown. CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don't have symptoms.
Will omicron cause more severe illness?
More data are needed to know if omicron infections, and especially reinfections and breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated, cause more severe illness or death than infection with other variants.
Will vaccines work against omicron?
Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur. With other variants, like Delta, vaccines have remained effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. The recent emergence of omicron further emphasizes the importance of vaccination and boosters.
Will treatments work against omicron?
Scientists are working to determine how well existing treatments for COVID-19 work. Based on the changed genetic make-up of Omicron, some treatments are likely to remain effective while others may be less effective.
Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.
For more information about COVID-19 and the variants, please visit the CDC's website.
Information from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the ZOE COVID Study, ABC News and the Associated Press
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