More and more people are becoming infected with the Omikron variant of the coronavirus. The symptoms may differ from those of the delta variant. At least that is what initial data suggest. Two signs in particular could point to omicron.
Omicron variant on the rise. At the moment, it appears to be even more infectious than the previously dominant, already highly contagious delta variant. Vaccine manufacturers also believe that two doses will not provide complete protection against infection with Omikron, but will continue to protect against severe disease. For the best possible protection, a third booster vaccination is imperative.
But it is not only in terms of infectivity and vaccination protection that Omikron differs from Delta and the previous variants. Symptoms are also said to be somewhat different.
First data on symptoms of omicron
Although the studies are still at an early stage, the data situation is currently diffuse. In principle, however, there is growing evidence that the diseases with Omikron are less severe than with the previous variants, say experts. For example, a study at the University of California at Berkeley showed: The risk of receiving intensive care treatment for an omicron infection was reduced by 74 percent compared to delta. The likelihood of hospitalization decreased by about 52 percent. The risk of dying from omicron infection is 91 percent lower than when infected with the previously dominant variant.
The Omikron variant was first discovered in a South African laboratory – but where it originated is unclear.
Noticeable symptom: heavy night sweats
Data from South Africa and the United Kingdom have extracted two concise symptoms for omicron infection in particular. According to scientists, one symptom is particularly striking: Heavy night sweats. As reported by "t-online with reference to the news agency AP reports, this had been frequently observed in addition to fever and pain in the body.
According to the British physician Amir Khan, he told the television station ITV that this symptom occurs very strongly. "They are those nighttime profuse sweats after which you have to change your clothes." According to Khan, this finding is very important, and he even called for it to be included in the official list of the British health service NHS.
Second prominent symptom: loss of appetite
And another symptom is increasingly manifested, which was unknown from previous mutants: loss of appetite. As reported by the Mirror citing researchers working on the "Zoe Covid"-Symptom study are involved. This symptom, for example, is not known at all from the delta variant, but was now mentioned more frequently in the British study.
It may help affected individuals to more quickly identify that they have covid-19 and that it is omicron.
No loss of sense of taste or smell with omicron
"Patients usually complain of an aching body and fatigue, extreme fatigue", Medical doctor Angelique Coetzee from South Africa also explained. And: "We see it In the younger generation, not in the elderly." However, the data from South Africa is very thin, especially on this point, because only six percent of the population there is over 65 years old. At the very least, there is concern that Omikron could hit older people with diabetes or heart disease even harder, Coetzee told Britain’s Telegraph.
Other possible symptoms, according to Coetzee, include a scratchy throat and dry cough. However, only a few patients observed by her had developed fever. Noticeable: Not a single infected person had complained of a lost sense of taste or smell.
In the original Corona variant from spring 2020, this was still one of the most common symptoms. According to researchers, however, the loss of taste and smell did not occur quite as frequently with the Delta variant – with Omikron, the symptom may have disappeared completely.
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Unusual symptoms in children
How Omikron affects children is also not yet clear. At least anecdotally, medical experts initially saw evidence that the new variant Could affect children more than previous mutations. "There is an increase in hospital admissions of children in the age group up to five years", Michelle Groome of South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases NICD said. In the capital city of Pretoria, young children made up the second largest age group treated in hospital after people over 60 years of age. But again, the South African population is much younger on average than, say, the German population.
Occasionally, doctors have reported unusual symptoms in children with the disease. "Up to 15 percent of infected children develop a skin rash", London GP David Lloyd told the Sky News channel. In addition symptoms would come like Fatigue, headaches and loss of appetite.
Omicron symptoms in children in Germany
In the meantime, however, experts assume that corona infections are generally less critical for children and adolescents than for adults. This is because their immune system is more adaptable and the virus is intercepted more strongly in the respiratory tract, explains the president of the German Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (DGKJ), Jorg Dotsch. With regard to Omikron, he refers to US study data, according to which for under-fives, the risk of being hospitalized is one-third as high as for delta.
Jakob Maske, spokesman for the professional association of pediatricians and adolescents, described his daily work in a pediatrician’s office in Berlin, saying that most of the children currently tested positive are "completely healthy and symptom-free. Some children would have sniffles, partly Cough and Fever or Gastrointestinal problems.
Dotsch explains that especially among younger people, the infection could be also febrile convulsions effect. With Omikron, however, symptoms were generally milder than with Delta, for example. However, in the rare severe courses in children could severe respiratory problems occur, ventilation becomes necessary. Complications on the blood vessels like blood clots are conceivable, said Dotsch. Because these things are so much less likely to happen in children than in adults, we can say: "In children as a whole, the course is milder."