As we enter the new year 2022, the world continues to face the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic. Viruses change their nature over time, so we have new variants on the block. The Delta variant, which led to the devastating second wave of the pandemic in India, now has a successor in the form of the Omicron Variant. People could have symptoms of fever, cold, or a sore throat and might not be able to figure out whether they have been infected with Omicron, Delta Variant, or viral flu.
In November, South Africa first reported the Omicron variant or the B.1.1.529 variant. The World Health Organization classified it as a variant of concern. Omicron is said to spread faster than other variants of coronavirus. Research says that Omicron cases are doubling every two to four days.
This makes Omicron a more transmissible variant than Delta. In June 2021, Delta, or the B.1.617.2 variant, was the dominant strain worldwide. The Delta variant is said to have a mutation that attacks the lung cells and causes hospitalization.
At the outset, the Delta and Omicron variants seem identical. However, there are subtle differences between them. According to doctors, if you compare both variants, Omicron appears to be a milder version of Delta.
In the case of Omicron, the infected individual display sore throat, headaches, fatigue, mild fever, and cold symptoms.
However, unlike Delta, loss of smell and taste, drop in oxygen levels, and breathing difficulty was not found in Omicron cases. Omicron is primarily asymptomatic, whereas Delta variant manifests in physical symptoms like body pain and fever.
According to Respiratory specialist Dr. Pritha Nayyar from the Asian Institute of Medical Sciences, apart from other symptoms, a tell-tale sign of the Omicron variant is the presence of headaches. Dr. Nayyar also mentions that Omicron primarily affects the upper respiratory tract.
Doctors have expressed that a lot is yet to be known of the Omicron variant and differentiate between the two variants. As Omicron has a higher transmissibility rate, doctors advise following appropriate Covid-19 behavior, including double masking, maintaining physical distance, and regularly using sanitizer.
The best defense against Covid-19 and its many variants remains getting vaccinated. Studies have shown that unvaccinated patients are at a higher risk of getting hospitalized and falling seriously ill. Vaccines are our best bet against Covid-19 right now.
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