With the omicron variant now present in over 60 countries, there is a greater understanding of its various aspects.
One of these aspects is the unusual symptoms that one doctor in north London has reported. According to David Lloyd, a general practitioner, 15% of the children in the area infected with omicron developed spots on their bodies. Cough, fever, fatigue, and loss of taste and smell have been the most common covid-19 symptoms so far. Anything beyond these is likely to go undetected, he told Sky News.
The Omicron jigsaw puzzle is still incomplete, and data is coming in slowly. For example, Angelique Coetzee, a general medicine doctor and chair of the South African Medical Association in South Africa, reported on Nov. 27 that most omicron cases she had seen were “very, very mild.” Some of these, she added, displayed symptoms that were out of the ordinary).
According to Coetzee, one such case involved a six-year-old child who had a fever and a “very high pulse rate.” While Coetzee was debating whether or not to admit the child to the hospital, a two-day follow-up call revealed that the child’s health had significantly improved.
“What we’re seeing clinically in South Africa—remember, I’m at the epicenter, that’s where I practice—is extremely mild…
Nobody has been admitted to the hospital. “I spoke with other colleagues, and we all saw the same thing,” she told the BBC.
However, the full impact of omicron on the unvaccinated, the elderly, and global covid-19 management is unknown.
The World Health Organization stated on December 10 that “there are still limited data on the clinical severity of omicron.” “While preliminary findings from South Africa suggest it may be less severe than delta, and all cases reported in the EU/EEA to date have been mild or asymptomatic,” the researchers write.
Are vaccines against omicron effective?
The cases among children, including one in India, could be attributed in large part to the fact that several countries have yet to vaccinate their children.
However, the new variant, which has over 30 mutations on the coronavirus spike protein, is likely to evade some of the immunity conferred by vaccines. Early research from the UK’s health security agency indicates that omicron reduces the efficacy of two-dose vaccines such as those manufactured by Pfizer and AstraZeneca. In comparison, the AstraZeneca vaccine provided up to 60% protection against the delta variant 25 weeks after the dose. In the case of omicron, this was reduced to 40%.
However, the study found that a third dose significantly increased antibody count and provided increased protection against omicron.
But one key question remains: Could omicron be as contagious as delta?
Is omicron the same as delta?
Some preliminary research suggests that omicron may spread faster than the delta variant, which was previously the most transmissible coronavirus variant.
However, the WHO is unsure whether the faster spread is due to omicron’s inherent virulence.
Based on the evidence so far, Omicron appears to have a growth advantage over Delta. “It [omicron] appears to spread faster than the delta variant in South Africa, where delta circulation was low, but also appears to spread faster than the delta variant in other countries where delta incidence is high, such as the United Kingdom,” the WHO said.
It could not conclusively say whether omicron’s observed rapid growth rate in countries with high levels of population immunity is related to evasion of immunity from past infection and vaccines, increased transmissibility intrinsic to the variant, or a combination of both.