Much more contagious but milder: what you need to know about Omikron BA.2

Experts have already confirmed weeks ago: Omicron has the potential to become the dominant alternative to the coronavirus. This was also a reality in this country a few weeks ago. Almost everyone currently has Subvariant BA.2. The Robert Koch Institute confirms this in its weekly report on April 28, 2022 and reports a BA.2 infection rate of 97 percent. But what does that mean for the injured? What signs of disease are there? And why is Omikron more contagious than its predecessor, Delta? Below is an overview of the most important answers.

How long does it take between disease transmission and the first signs of illness?

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) sets the incubation period, that is, the period from infection to disease onset, for the wild type of coronavirus at five to six and a half days. However, shorter times apply to Sars-CoV-2 variants. The currently dominant omicron version BA.2 appears to get you sick much faster than the wild type of Sars-CoV-2. With the help of studies, it was already possible to show that the incubation period for omicron variants takes on average only three days. However, it is still too early to obtain reliable data on the BA.2 variant.

Is an omicron variant really contagious?

Experts have suspected for several weeks that the Omicron variant is more contagious than its predecessors. Now there is the first data from Denmark. The researchers found that in a shared home with Omicrons, 31 percent of other people living in the same home were infected, compared to only 21 percent in the delta variant. Researchers from Japan came up with higher numbers for the dominant BA.2 variant. According to a previously unverified publication, people with BA.2 infect about 40 percent of people.

What makes Omikron “successful” as a type of virus?

Perhaps genetic modifications of the virus are responsible for the better spread of omicron variants. Omicron differs genetically in 50 places compared to the wild type. 32 of these changes affect the so-called spike protein, which allows the virus to enter cells. In principle, individual mutations, especially combinations of certain mutations, can change the properties of viruses. It is possible that changes in the spike protein of the coronavirus could lead to better or worse transmission of the virus. In addition, it is possible to alter the symptoms of Covid-19 and general changes in the course of the disease due to mutations. But so far there are only hints.

Is Omicron Really Less Dangerous Than Delta?

Although Omicron is more contagious than its predecessor, the variant also causes less severe disease progression in general compared to Delta. According to a study from Great Britain, 30 per cent fewer people are hospitalized for Covid-19 by Omikron. Experts also attribute this to genetic changes in the spike protein. There is also evidence that the number of deaths associated with Covid-19 decreases with omicron infection.

What are the effects of mutations on infected people?

It is not possible to say for sure at this point in time. However, it seems that after penetration into the body, the omicron can multiply much faster than the delta virus variant in the upper respiratory tract, that is, in the ENT region, trachea, as well as in the thicker branches of the bronchi. Meanwhile, the Omikron variants probably won’t reach the lower airways as well as the Delta’s interior variant. Physicians theorize that dreaded pneumonia is associated with omicron infection less frequently. Patients with omicron also require less treatment in intensive care units and require less ventilation. Patients’ hospital stay times are also reduced by an average of three to four days. However, experts warn that omicron infection should not be underestimated.

How does omicron infection appear?

No matter what subtype of omicron you have, symptoms are similar to those of a flu-like infection in mild courses. Variable omicron infections are frequently associated with strep throat and less often with loss of taste or smell than delta infections. Many people with a sore throat or sore throat feel sore, which is often followed by a headache, body aches, a runny nose, and a dry cough. Some also have fever or chills. It is also possible to have a disturbed voice or feelings such as muscle aches, as well as loss of appetite, fatigue and night sweats. US researchers from the CDC Health Authority complete the list of symptoms and draw attention to blue or gray skin discoloration, pale lips, or discoloration of nail beds. They refer to these symptoms as emergency warning signs because they indicate that the body is not getting enough oxygen. Those affected should consult a doctor as soon as possible. This also applies to severe breathing problems, persistent tachycardia, or severe chest pressure.

How long does Covid-19 caused by Omicron BA.2 last?

This cannot be said in general at the moment, as it depends on several factors, such as age, weight, vaccination status, previous Covid 10 infection and other previous diseases. However, infection with Omikron BA.2 appears to be quite comparable to other respiratory infections common before the Covid-19 pandemic. These symptoms also usually subside in healthy people after three to five days, but after a week at the latest. But beware! Infection with BA.2 can also become a serious illness. For example, anyone who notices that they are barely able to function under pressure and that they have already stopped breathing after climbing a few steps should see a doctor.

What are the effects of vaccinations?

Even fully vaccinated people and even boosted people are currently infected with Omikron BA.2. However, vaccinations do what they are supposed to: they protect the majority of people from severe Covid-19 cycles. The duration of Covid-19 disease is generally shorter in booster people than in people who have been vaccinated twice or not at all. This is confirmed by the data of the so-called Zoe-Covid symptom study, which a British research team evaluated and published the results in the journal “The Lancet”. According to this, COVID-19 disease caused by one of the omicrons was 1.3 days shorter in those vaccinated twice than in those with delta. However, the researchers noticed a larger difference when comparing sick days in people who had triple vaccines for Covid 19. While they were sick for an average of 7.7 days with delta, the number of sick days with omicron infection decreased by 3.3 days. The researchers calculated the results based on data from more than 63,000 people. In one app, they self-reported the symptoms they noticed and how long they had lasted.

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