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Are Omicron Symptoms Different From Other COVID-19 Variants?


Are Omicron Symptoms Different From Other COVID-19 Variants?

Questions about the omicron variant still abound as cases grow around the world. Among them are whether omicron symptoms notably differ from previous strains of the novel coronavirus. As with most things omicron, the answers are not yet clear. While the World Health Organization (WHO) said on November 28, “There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with omicron are different from those from other variants,” the most recent data points suggest otherwise. Preliminary evidence indicates that people infected with the omicron strain of COVID-19 may experience more mild, cold-like symptoms, based on multiple studies. 

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a data analysis on the first 43 omicron cases investigated in the U.S. Among those cases, 80% of people were fully vaccinated or fully vaccinated and boosted. Forty of 43 people were symptomatic, and only one was hospitalized. The most commonly reported symptoms were cough (89%), fatigue (65%), and congestion/runny nose (59%). Notably, only 8% of people had reduced sense of smell characteristic of earlier COVID-19 strains. (Research from 2020 found temporary changes in sense of smell or taste was one of the most common symptoms in mild cases of COVID-19, as SELF has reported.) 

That data lines up with a post-holiday party omicron outbreak case study out of Oslo that researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) published in the open-access journal Eurosurveillance this week. Among the 111 of the 117 attendees at the November 26 event who participated in interviews (96% of whom were fully vaccinated), 81 people got sick by December 13—including 66 confirmed omicron cases (verified with via PCR variant screening and/or whole genome sequencing) and 15 suspected omicron cases (a positive PCR test for COVID-19 but no strain testing). Only one case was symptomatic and most people (74) had at least three symptoms. The most common omicron symptoms were cough (83%), runny/stuffy nose (78%), fatigue/lethargy (74%), sore throat (72%), headache (68%) and fever (54%). Just 12% of people…

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