Over 70 percent of Britons have now received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine but many more need to roll up their sleeves. The message from public health experts could not be clearer: to stop the NHS from becoming overwhelmed in the coming weeks, all eligible Britons must complete the primary series (two doses) followed by a booster shot. Evidence shows Omicron avoids some of the antibody attention induced by two shots of a Covid vaccine.
The findings echo insights from other health experts.
Christina Marriott, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) said: “Growing evidence shows that people who’ve received two doses of the vaccine typically present with less severe symptoms, such as headache, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, and loss of smell.
“It’s important for people who’ve been fully vaccinated to stay vigilant for cold-like symptoms and get tested if they’re living or working around people who are at greater risk from the disease.”
The symptom profile generally resembles cold-like symptoms, Professor Tim Spector, from Britain’s ZOE Covid app has noted.
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He said that data from the ZOE study app suggests that about half of all cases of Delta are being “missed” because they are not presenting with “classic” Covid symptoms of fever, new and persistent cough and a loss or change of smell or taste.
“Omicron is probably more, much more similar to the mild variants we’re seeing in people who have been vaccinated with Delta than anything else,” Prof Spector said.
“And so it is going to be producing cold-like symptoms that people won’t recognise as Covid if they just believe the official government advice.”
His insights are are based on an initial analysis of ZOE symptom data from positive cases in London.
The ZOE Covid study has been mapping the movements of the virus via reports from millions of users in its app.
The initial analysis found no clear differences in the early symptoms (three days after test) between Delta and Omicron.
The top five symptoms reported in the ZOE app were:
- Runny nose
- Fatigue (either mild or severe)
- Sore throat.
Prof Spector said: “Omicron is set to be the dominant strain in the UK by Christmas, and in the New Year cases could hit a peak higher than anything we’ve ever seen before. In London cases have been rising rapidly, but this will likely slow down soon, as people change their behaviour, such as wearing face masks again, cancelling parties and working from home more.”
He continued: Hopefully people now recognise the cold-like symptoms which appear to be the predominant feature of Omicron. These are the changes that will slow the spread of the virus. It’s my hope that the rest of the country is doing the same to avoid big outbreaks outside of London, especially in big cities.
“Ahead of Christmas, if people want to get together and keep vulnerable family members safe, I’d recommend limiting social contact in the run up to Christmas and doing a few Lateral Flow Tests just before the big family gathering. As our latest data shows, Omicron symptoms are predominantly cold symptoms, runny nose, headache, sore throat and sneezing, so people should stay at home as it might well be Covid.
“We are also seeing two to three times as many mild infections in people with boosters in Omicron areas as we do in Delta variant areas, but they are still very protective and a vital weapon. The ZOE app is one of the best tools we have to rapidly understand this new variant so we want to encourage everyone to download the app and start logging. It only takes a minute to report but each contribution makes a huge difference to the fight against Covid.”
Published at Mon, 20 Dec 2021 08:08:00 +0000