Everything we know so far about the Omicron variant

Everything we know so far about the Omicron variant

With a summary from Inserm, published on January 13, 2022, we evaluate the Omicron variant: its characteristics, symptoms, problems …

What do we know so far about the Omicron variant? Inserm (National Institute of Health and Medical Research) published a full summary on Thursday January 13, 2022 on this form of Covid-19 that became prevalent in France at the end of December.

Less dangerous, but much more contagious

A variant that would find its origins in South Africa, before spreading to many countries. First observation: Omicron will be “more transmissible, with a shorter incubation period”, but will also have “a greater potential to lead to re-infection”.

So Omicron is highly contagious, but not more dangerous. He was three times less likely to be hospitalized than the delta variant. In addition, in hospitalized patients, the risk of exacerbation of the disease is also lower.

“A publication from South Africa reports that the risk of an acute form in hospitalized patients is divided by 4 for omicron compared to delta. In addition, the average length of hospitalization is 4 days with this variant (versus 8 days with delta. variant)” , related to Inserm.

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Is the third dose of the vaccine effective against Omicron?

In addition to its ease of transmission, Omicron appears to be “less sensitive” to Covid-19 antibodies obtained after two doses of the vaccine as well as “monoclonal antibodies used in the clinic to prevent severe forms of the disease in people at risk.”

Evidence for this is that teams from the Pasteur Institute and Inserm noted that the antibodies in the blood of people who received two doses of the vaccine (Pfizer or AstraZeneca) “can no longer neutralize Ommicron after five months. They were vaccinated.”

Inserm continues: “Ongoing studies aim to understand why this variant is transmissible from one individual to another and analyze the duration of protection for the third dose.” Because at the moment: “Several publications show that the efficacy of primary vaccination to prevent omicron infection decreases after 6 months. With 3e dose (booster dose), however it is possible to partially restore this efficacy.”

Another difficulty brought by this South African alternative: vaccination would limit very little the possibility of transmitting the virus to other individuals. Omicron then asks these questions today: “Will a fourth dose be needed? How long will the protection last after the third dose? In the long term, will a vaccine adapted to Omicron be necessary?”

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What are the symptoms and what are the treatments?

The treatments used against Covid-19 are no different when it comes to Omicron. Since Friday, January 14, 2022, the World Health Organization has also authorized two new drugs in the fight against the virus.

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Symptoms are hardly different from the Covid-19 we have already known for nearly two years. In its latest epidemiological report on January 7, the French Public Health Authority reported several analyzes of a cohort of 338 cases positive for the omicron variant.

60% had extreme fatigue, 54.6% had a cough, and 48.9% had a fever. Less frequent but still present, headaches also manifested as muscle aches, sore throat, runny nose and shortness of breath. Loss of taste and smell is still present, but in a small fraction of patients (9%).

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