What to look for and how they can differ by vaccine status – NBC Chicago


With Omicron now the dominant strain in the U.S., and with cases increasing rapidly in Illinois and across the country, there are some symptoms, according to experts, that are noticeable with the new variant of COVID that are different from what many see with the Delta variant expected.

Dr. Katherine Poehling, Infectious Disease Specialist and Board Member for Vaccination Practices, said NBC News last week that coughing, constipation, runny nose and fatigue appeared as prominent symptoms with the Omicron variant. But unlike Delta, many patients do not lose their taste or smell.

According to Pöhling, the evidence so far is anecdotal and not based on scientific research. She also noted that these symptoms may only reflect certain populations.

Still, CDC data showed that the most common symptoms so far are cough, fatigue, constipation, and a runny nose.

However, some experts suggest that symptoms could depend on vaccination status and underlying health conditions.

Chicago Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said she was “fairly confident” that the variant will lead to more breakthrough cases and reinfections in those who have already had COVID, but the severity of the cases, particularly in vulnerable populations and unvaccinated individuals, remains unclear, albeit early Breakthrough cases in the Midwest showing mild symptoms, if any.

“We think based on what we see now, Omicron is unlikely to be more severe than Delta, which is very, very good news, but I’m still skeptical of claims that there is a significantly lesser severity level” said Arwady. “So great news, it doesn’t look like it will make people any sicker than what we have now, but I know there are a lot of people out there who feel like this really doesn’t make people sick at all, and that’s still not something that my team believes the data shows. “

In New York, where cases continue to rise, an ambulance doctor, known on social media for his documentation of the fight against COVID during the pandemic, reported groundbreaking cases he saw in those with booster vaccinations who showed “mild” symptoms .

“By light I mean mostly a sore throat. Lots of sore throats,” Craig Spencer wrote on Twitter. “Also a little tiredness, maybe muscle pain. No breathing difficulties. No shortness of breath. Everything a bit uncomfortable, but okay. ”

Cases in people who were fully vaccinated but not boosted with either Pfizer or Moderna vaccine remained mild, but slightly more intense.

“More tiredness. More fever. More cough. Overall a bit miserable. But no shortness of breath. No breathing difficulties,” he wrote.

For those with Johnson & Johnson who did not get the refresher, he wrote the patients felt awful, with fever, fatigue, cough, and shortness of breath, but did not need hospitalization or oxygen.

However, symptoms were more severe in the unvaccinated.

“Almost every single patient I have looked after who had to be admitted for Covid was unvaccinated,” wrote Spencer. “Anyone with severe breathlessness. Anyone whose oxygen was depleted while walking. Anyone who regularly needs oxygen to breathe.”

Dr. Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor who first sounded the alarm about the new strain, said the BBC that around November 18, she began seeing patients with “unusual symptoms” that were slightly different from those of the Delta variant.

“It actually started with a male patient who is around 33 years old … and he told me that he was just [been] Extremely tired the last few days and he has these body aches and a bit of a headache, “she told the BBC.

The patient has no sore throat, she said, but rather “scratches in the throat” but no cough or loss of taste or smell – symptoms that have been linked to previous strains of the coronavirus.

Coetzee said she tested the male patient for COVID and he was positive, as were his family, and then said she saw more patients that day with the same symptoms as they did with the Delta variant.

Other patients she had seen with the Omicron variant had also experienced “extremely mild” symptoms, which she described, and she added that her colleagues had noticed similar cases.

Similarly, the President’s senior medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, in the first US case, that the person had been vaccinated but had not received a booster and had “mild symptoms”.

Modern CEO Stephane Bancel told CNBC that Omicron symptoms reported in South Africa may not be a good indicator of the virulence of the variant in other parts of the world, given that the country has a much younger and healthier population than European nations and the United States

According to the first findings of a Study by the British Imperial College London, there is no evidence that the Omicron variant is less severe than the Delta variant based on the symptoms reported.

“The study finds no evidence that Omicron has a lower severity than Delta, as measured either by the proportion of people who test positive who report symptoms or the proportion of cases who go to hospital after infection,” said a research team under the Headed by Professor Neil Ferguson on Friday in a blog post accompanying the study.

The data included 24 hospitalizations of patients suspected of having the Omicron variant, with the researchers saying “hospitalization data is currently very limited”. The study has yet to be reviewed.

Hospital admissions are increasing in Illinois.

Allan Spooner, CEO of Franciscan Health South Suburban Chicago, said Monday that COVID-19 cases at the system’s hospitals have increased four-fold in the past three weeks – from 10% to 42%. More than 70% of ICU patients have COVID-19, 30% of whom require a ventilator, he said.

Doctor and staff infections have also risen as the recent surge mounts, Spooner said, “exacerbating an already precarious health care shortage.”

Rex Budde, President and CEO of Southern Illinois Healthcare, reiterated a similar message.

“The most important thing we can do is get vaccinated,” he said.

Budde said 40% of Carbondale Hospital’s medical beds are occupied by COVID patients. As with other health systems, he said the hospital had to pull resources from other parts of the facility to treat COVID patients and delay treating others, including those with stroke and heart.

“People die from this virus who don’t have to die,” he said. “Imagine if you were a nurse or a doctor or a nursing technician who had to look at this and process it every day. The staff is exhausted. Nurses are exhausted. Doctors are exhausted.”

Despite some differences reported between Omicron and Delta, Chicago experts say that looking at symptoms is not enough.

“The trick is, you can’t tell the difference between Omicron, Delta, Lambda, and simple COVID from the start,” said Dr. Emily Landon, infectious disease specialist and chief epidemiologist for the hospital at the University of Chicago Medicine. “Influenza, or even rhinovirus, is what causes most of our colds in winter. You won’t tell the difference between these just by looking at your symptoms. For many people, these symptoms overlap. And although there are some parts of the Venn diagram like taste , Loss of taste and smell or frequent COVID as these other things, there is a lot of overlap. Just at the beginning of an illness you won’t know what kind of illness you have. You have to get tested. “

And getting tested doesn’t necessarily tell you if you have the Omicron variant, Landon said.

“When you get a COVID test, they’re just looking to see if you have COVID or not,” she said. “They don’t know what type of Covid-19 is exactly. You have to do this thing called sequencing which takes a lot longer. It’s a lot more intense. You certainly can’t get that back in 24 hours, and it’s only done by specialized laboratories. “

Overall, symptoms for COVID reported by the CDC include:

  • Fever or chills
  • to cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • fatigue
  • Muscle or limb pain
  • a headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Constipation or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea



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