U.S. instances of COVID are once more ticking up from the excessive plateau they’ve sat at a lot of the yr. Transmission of the virus is “substantial” or “excessive” in practically 75% of U.S. counties, in keeping with the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.
When COVID instances fail to drop into low-level valleys after mountainous peaks, it’s robust to inform when a brand new wave is beginning. However as instances of as soon as globally dominant BA.5 taper off, new variants just like the BQ household are gaining floor within the U.S. and elsewhere.
Meaning a coming wave of instances, consultants say—or a sustained excessive wall of instances, probably, if frequent waves of Omicron variants overlap one another.
What signs ought to one look out for? The quick reply: not essentially the identical signs that signaled COVID firstly of the pandemic.
Shedding the power to scent is not frequent amongst COVID sufferers, in keeping with the lately launched Zoe Well being Examine, by scientists at Harvard and Stanford universities, along with faculties within the UK.
Researchers examined knowledge submitted by tens of 1000’s of individuals who logged their signs for analysis functions through an app. Signs frequent amongst those that’ve been contaminated with the Omicron variant—at the moment answerable for the overwhelming majority of instances worldwide—who’ve had at the very least one dose of vaccine embody sneezing, sore throat, nasal congestion, persistent cough, and headache, they discovered.
“If you happen to’ve been vaccinated and begin sneezing loads with out a proof, it’s best to get a COVID check, particularly in case you are dwelling or working round people who find themselves at better danger from the illness,” the authors wrote.
These with Omicron had been far much less prone to expertise mind fog, eye ache, fever, and headache than those that skilled Delta, in keeping with researchers. As well as, these with Omicron who had been vaccinated had been at a decrease danger of hospitalization and tended to be sick for a shorter period of time, when in comparison with these vaccinated who skilled earlier variants.
Whereas COVID sufferers requiring hospitalization throughout the Delta wave in late 2021 tended to have pneumonia-like signs, COVID sufferers throughout the Omicron period extra usually have signs much like the frequent chilly, in keeping with a June article in Infectious Illness Experiences. The 4 generally circulating human coronaviruses apart from COVID often current as frequent colds.
The shift probably occurred as a result of the Delta variant tended to thrive within the decrease respiratory system of these contaminated, whereas the Omicron variant, particularly more moderen strains, tends to thrive within the higher respiratory system. That’s topic to vary, nevertheless, because the virus evolves.
It’s inconceivable to say whether or not Omicron is much less extreme than Delta, consultants say, as a result of the general public has continued to construct its immunity. When persons are contaminated or vaccinated, it boosts their immune methods—and whereas antibody immunity lasts only some months, T-cell immunity, which might make infections milder, lasts for for much longer.
It’s doable that COVID is turning into extra akin to the seasonal flu, consultants say, with milder signs and instances which might be extra frequent throughout winter. But it surely’s too early to know, they warning, including that the virus may change course at any level.
At this level within the pandemic, it could be tough to differentiate COVID from the flu or one other respiratory virus. If you happen to’re sick, consultants advocate testing—at-home assessments can be found for COVID, after all, physician’s workplaces have speedy assessments for the flu, and a few lab corporations provide at-home assessments for each. Individuals who check constructive for both can contact their well being care supplier about prescribing an antiviral like Paxlovid for COVID, or Tamiflu for the flu.
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