What You Need to Know About the Omicron Variant

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

How Quickly Does Omicron Spread?

According to a preliminary study from the University of Hong Kong LKS Facility of Medicine the finding reveal that Omicron can infect and multiply 70 times faster than Delta within 24 hours. The new variant is more easily transmissible than the prior strain which is why countries are experiencing a large surge in case numbers even in heavily vaccinated ones. If you are feeling unwell and experiencing mild flu-like symptoms or came into contact with someone who tested positive get yourself tested right away and avoid large gatherings.

Flu Season is from October 1st through April 1st in the United States. COVID cases are 10 times more fatal than the common cold.

What Kind of Symptoms Do Patients Have?

According to Dr. Angelique Coetzee chair of the African Medical Association she detailed how one patient on November 18th was feeling tired, experienced muscle aches and pains, with a slight headache. However, there was no sore throat or loss of taste and smell, something that was evident in the prior strains. Although most of her South African patients were in their 20s and 30s this could be attributed to the fact that the median age in much younger at 27.6 versus 38.1 in the US.

How Does it Compare to the Original Strain?

For context it’s important to compare the Omicron strain to original strain which broke around the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan. In health statistics scientists use the R0 (R-naught) to calculate how quickly a disease is spreading over a period of time and how many people it infects (any value over one means it’s growing). The R0 for the strain in Wuhan was 2–3, the R0 for the Omicron strain as calculated by virologist Trevor Bedford of Fred Hutch is between 3 and 6. For every person in close proximity with the Omicron strain as many as six will become infected spreading the virus quickly. Meanwhile another study by Professor Alastair Grant of the University of East Anglia in the UK estimates that one case will infect 3.47 people in three days.

No Evidence to Suggest Higher Fatality Rates, Yet

We’re not sure if the omicron strain is any more or less lethal than Delta strain. So far there is insufficient data to suggest whether this strain has a higher or lower fatality rate than its ancestors. It doesn’t appear at the moment that this variant (B 1. 1. 529) is creating higher fatality rates than its ancestors over the last two years. That could change as more data is collected by scientists on the severity of this variant but only time will tell. And it can certainly vary for each individual.

Only 48% of the world population is fully vaccinated from COVID as of December 19th, 2021. © NYT

How This Impacts Us

The severity of this new fourth wave we around beginning to experience around the world depends on several critical factors:

  • The percentage of that area fully vaccinated with booster shots (booster shots are 75% effective against this new strain).
  • Whether people are limiting the number of gathers to limit the spread.
  • The number of people covering both their mouth and nose with a mask, lessens the severity of the virus.
  • How much virus the person you come into contact with had.
  • How many people will remain unvaccinated over the next six months globally.

Current Projections for the United States

The United States currently has 125 million Americans who are either partially or not vaccinated at all.



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