Omicron variant: The ‘scratchy’ symptom that’s showing up in people infected with Omicron


The world is currently wrestling with two questions that have profound implications for both public health and the economy: How bad will the new variant of coronavirus ultimately prove and what is the most proportionate response? Stock markets in affected industries have already slumped as fears take hold. Much is still to be learned about the new variant, such as the nature of its transmissibility and severity.

However, doctor Angelique Coetzee, chairwoman of the South African Medical Association, has helped to advance our collective understanding.

Doctor Coetzee started seeing patients in November with “unusual symptoms” that were slightly different from what she saw among COVID-19 patients infected with the Delta variant.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, she provided a picture of the symptoms to expect.

One distinctive feature was related to the throat. The symptom was reported in a male patient she was treating.

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Research conducted by the ZOE COVID Study, which has been tracking the movement of the virus throughout the pandemic, has called for a more expansive list to be published that’s more reflective of the data.

The research shows there’s more to Covid than the three classic symptoms, but many people remain unaware of all the symptoms we should be looking out for.

As the team behind the study pointed out, this discrepancy leaves people at risk of wrongly believing they have a cold, when in fact they could have Covid.

In addition to loss of smell and taste, the ZOE COVID Study says to look out for the following:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Persistent cough
  • Fever.

UK response

The UK government is hoping that expanding the booster vaccine programme will stem the rising tide of cases linked to the new Omicron variant.

Following recommendations from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) earlier this week, those aged 18 to 39 will now be eligible for a booster when the NHS calls them forward.

The booster will be offered in order of descending age groups, with priority given to the vaccination of older adults and those in a COVID-19 at-risk group.

In response to the changing risk posed by the Omicron variant, the booster will now be given no sooner than three months after the primary course.

In addition, a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for young people aged 12 to 15 years is advised no sooner than 12 weeks after the first dose.

The overall intention of the measures advised above is to accelerate the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines and raise levels of protection across the population.

Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair, COVID-19 immunisation, JCVI said: “Having a booster dose of the vaccine will help to increase our level of protection against the Omicron variant. This is an important way for us to reduce the impact of this variant on our lives, especially in the coming months.

“If you are eligible for a booster, please take up the offer and keep yourself protected as we head into winter.”

Published at Fri, 03 Dec 2021 15:54:00 +0000

Omicron variant: The ‘scratchy’ symptom that’s showing up in people infected with Omicron