Omicron is the latest variant of the coronavirus to raise concerns about the course of the pandemic. Various organizations have pointed out at the transmissibility of the new variant. While a virus may be highly transmissible, its virulence is what defines the mortality rate among people.
Given that the new strain has over 30 mutations in the spike protein, which is unlike any other previous strain, experts believe it can escape vaccine immunity, which is why it’s spreading like wildfire. However, up until now, the cases around the world have been ‘mild’. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that the newest variant of the SARS-CoV-2 may easily infect those who have either caught the virus earlier or been fully vaccinated. However, the global health agency also states that the disease will be milder as compared to the Delta variant.
Similar to earlier variants, COVID’s Omicron may lead to fatigue or extreme exhaustion. A person may feel overtired, experience low energy and may have a strong desire to rest, which can disrupt everyday activities. However, it is important to note that fatigue may arise out of other reasons and health problems too. Make sure to get yourself tested to confirm your condition.
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Most of the new cases in South Africa have been among people in their 20s and 30s, and doctors note that age group generally has milder symptoms of COVID-19 in any case.
They warn though that older people infected by the new variant could have more severe symptoms.
“We’ve seen a sharp increase in cases for the past 10 days. So far they have mostly been very mild cases, with patients having flu-like symptoms: dry coughs, fever, night sweats, a lot of body pains,” said Dr. Unben Pillay, a general practitioner in Gauteng province where 81% of the new cases have been reported.
Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, told the BBC on Sunday that she started to see patients around Nov.18 presenting with “unusual symptoms” that differed slightly to those associated with the delta variant, which is the most virulent strain of the virus to date and globally dominant.
Among the variants of concern, Omicron has the most mutations, or changes to its genetic code. Omicron has around 50 mutations, including more than 30 that affect its signature spike protein, the structure that helps the virus infiltrate cells. The spike protein is also the principal target of vaccines. For instance, the mRNA vaccines ferry genetic information encoding noninfectious spike protein into cells. Cells then make and export the protein, prompting the immune system to mount a response, including producing antibodies that can recognize the spike protein.
Omicron shares spike-protein mutations with earlier variants, including Delta and Beta, which was first identified in South Africa about a year ago.
Since the onset of novel coronavirus, mild to moderate fever is one of the tell-tale signs of COVID-19. But while fever from previous strains had a lingering effect on the patients, the current variant induces mild body temperature that gets better on its own.