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COVID-19 Omicron Variant's Symptoms Are Similar to the Common Cold

And loss of smell is no longer a defining symptom.

COVID-19 Omicron Variant's Symptoms Are Similar to the Common Cold
The common cold symptoms could be from an Omicron infection Cecilie_Arcurs/ iStock

As the U.S. prepares to face another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic due to a more transmissible variant, one might think that we are better prepared. However, since the Omicron variant is not exhibiting the same symptoms, the disease presentation has changed, Vox reported

As the infections caused by the Omicron variant dampens holiday plans for people at large, experts in public health are urging people to take precautions and not take the Omicron variant lightly. Large parts of the population in the U.S.have been vaccinated with at least one dose, the healthcare system knows what to expect, and even has access to effective drugs to tackle the disease. However, a new twist in the tale is the way the drastic change in the symptoms that people are exhibiting post an Omicron infection. 

In 2020, fever, cough, and loss of sense of smell or taste were the classic symptoms that defined a COVID-19 infection. However, those infected with Omicron have reported symptoms like a runny nose, headache, fatigue, sneezing, and a sore throat, Vox reported, something that was also seen with the Delta variant. While these symptoms might appear to be similar to that of the common cold, usually seen around this time of the year, experts warn against taking them lightly. 

The report is based on preliminary data collected from a limited number of individuals that's less than 200 in the U.K. with a mobile app where individuals self-reported their symptoms. They found resonance with another small-sized cohort in Norway that also saw Omicron-related infections. While both these groups consisted of vaccinated individuals, less than half of the people showed the classic symptoms, Vox reported, making it easier to dismiss the infection as a common cold and aid in its further spread. 

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According to the Vox report, severe illnesses also begin with mild symptoms, and given that the variant spreads far faster than the Delta variant, it could quickly reach a scale that could overwhelm the healthcare system. The similarity with cold-like symptoms makes it critical to test individuals early to halt the spread of the virus and also treat the disease in its early stages, Vox reported. 

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are still many unknowns about the Omicron variant. However, vaccines are still useful in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death while masks are effective against all variants.  

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