The omicron coronavirus variant affects the upper respiratory tract, which causes milder symptoms than other variants of the virus, according to World Health Official Abdi Mahamud.
Other variants of the virus impact all areas of the respiratory system, particularly the lungs, which can cause more serious cases of the virus as well as pneumonia, Mahamud stated on Tuesday.
Evidence suggests that omicron impacts mainly the upper respiratory system, however, meaning that while it is much more infectious, it results in less severe cases of the virus and fewer deaths.
“It can be a good news, but we really require more studies to prove that,” Mahamud stated.
Omicron causes milder infections, yet is highly infectious
The variant has spread throughout the world since it was first identified in November, bringing with it increased transmission rates to many of the 128 countries where it has been detected.
Although case numbers are elevated in the wake of omicron’s arrival, in many instances, deaths and hospitalizations as a result of the variant remain relatively low.
Greece has experienced a spike in cases in recent weeks, likely due to the omicron variant. On Tuesday, there were 50,126 cases of the virus found in the country, the highest number ever recorded in a 24-hour period in Greece.
In South Africa, which was one of the first countries to report cases of the variant, Covid cases skyrocketed — only to plummet weeks later.
On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US’ top immunologist, discussed the situation on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.”
“One of the things that we hope for, George, is that this thing will peak after a period of a few weeks and turn around. We have seen that happen in South Africa, where they had a major surge, but, as quickly as the surge went up, it turned around,” Fauci stated.
When Stephanopoulos asked if Omicron indeed causes less severe infections than those experienced in all previous permutations of the virus, Fauci agreed.
“Well, there’s accumulating evidence, George, that that is the case,” he said, noting “We first got inkling of that in South Africa. When one looked at the relationship and the ratio between hospitalizations and cases, it was lower, the duration of hospital stay was lower, the requirements for oxygen was lower.”
Mahamud also acknowledged the positive news from South Africa, but cautioned the public that a similar pattern may not occur everywhere, as the country’s population is very young.
Additionally, he noted that the stress of additional hospitalizations due to increased transmission rates could hurt medical systems in in countries with low vaccination rates.
Danish epidemiologist believes life will be back to normal soon due to Omicron
The Omicron variant of the coronavirus will in effect wipe out all the other mutations of the virus and people across the world will “have our normal lives back in two months” according to Denmark’s chief epidemiologist.
The much more transmissible mutation of the virus that has swept across the world for two years now will bring about the end of the pandemic, she says, noting the results of a new study in the nation that saw one of the earliest outbreaks of Omicron.
Tyra Grove Krause told interviewers on Danish TV 2 on Monday that the new study, undertaken by Denmark’s State Serum Institute shows that the risk of becoming hospitalized with Omicron is half that of the Delta variant.
“I think we will have that in the next two months, and then I hope the infection will start to subside and we get our normal lives back,” she said on Monday, as reported in the Daily Mail.
“Omicron will peak at the end of January, and in February we will see declining infection pressure and a decreasing pressure on the health care system,” Krause stated, cautioning “But we have to make an effort in January, because it will be hard to get through.
“Omicron is here to stay, and it will provide some massive spread of infection in the coming month(s). When it’s over, we’re in a better place than we were before,” the study’s authors said.
Krause explained that the extremely contagious Omicron variant does seem to be milder than any other previously-known mutation of the virus, which ultimately means that more people will indeed become infected, but experience less serious symptoms — and then become immune.
That is how the world may actually reach the herd immunity that will allow us to resume our lives once again, Krause argues.