Omicron variant: The common symptom ‘we never saw before vaccination came in’ – doctor

Omicron being called a 'mild disease' is 'incorrect' says Whitty

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The Omicron variant has surged across the world since it was first detected in southern Africa late last year. Scientists feared the worst after it was discovered that mutations on its spike protein gave it an inbuilt advantage against vaccination. The variant avoids some of the detection of antibodies induced by the vaccines.

As a result, governments have ramped up their booster programmes to add an additional layer of immunity.

Much has also been learned about the symptoms of Omicron in the intervening months since it was discovered.

The ZOE Covid Study, which tracks the movements of the pandemic, has been instrumental to this effort.

One of the most common symptoms to emerge is sneezing, according to ZOE findings.

According to Doctor Claire Steves, scientist of the ZOE Covid Study, sneezing is a symptom “we never saw before vaccination came in”.

The doc is referring to ZOE findings published last year which suggested that sneezing more than usual can be a sign of COVID-19 but only in people who’ve been vaccinated.

“Interestingly, our data shows that people who had been vaccinated and then tested positive for COVID-19 were more likely to report sneezing as a symptom compared with those without a jab,” ZOE scientists said at the time.

“This suggests that sneezing a lot with no explanation after you’ve been vaccinated could be a sign of COVID-19.”

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Sneezing now accounts for 60 percent of symptomatic cases of Omicron in the UK, the latest ZOE data suggests.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Fatigue (mild or severe)
  • Sore throat.

The ZOE analysis, which draws on data from user submissions to its app, found no clear difference in the symptom profile of Delta and Omicron, with only 50 percent of people experiencing the classic three symptoms of fever, cough, or loss of sense of smell or taste.

Interestingly, loss of smell and taste have become much less common – it was in the top 10 symptoms earlier in the 2021 and now its ranking at 17, with only one in five people experiencing it.

“This may come as a surprise to some, as the UK government never updated guidance on Covid symptoms beyond the classic three symptoms,” noted the ZOE scientists.

Many months ago, the ZOE Covid Study helped to identify over 20, mostly mild, cold-like symptoms.

While Omicron may feel more like a cold to many of us, “it can still hospitalise and ultimately, kill and leave people suffering with long-term symptoms that disrupt their day-to-day lives”, warns the ZOE scientists.

The variant’s increased transmissibility is driving up hospital admissions, although rates are far lower than those seen in previous waves.

That’s why it’s vital to self-isolate if you spot the symptoms of Omicron.

From today (January 11), people who produce a positive lateral flow test will no longer need to take a PCR test to confirm their result.

Asymptomatic people in England who test positive will no longer require a confirmatory PCR.

PCR tests – mainly for people with symptoms – are sent to a lab to be checked.

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