The COVID pandemic started at the turn of 2020. The virus was first detected in Wuhan, China and since then has spread around the globe and mutated into several different strains. As of June 2022, the most prevalent strain is the Omicron, a less deadly but more transmissible version of the virus. In this blog we will analyse the current state of the COVID pandemic and dive into the details surround the most common COVID variant.
Covid history & current variants?
The novel coronavirus responsible for the pandemic was first isolated in December of 2019 but was declared a Public Health Emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in January 2020 and a global pandemic two months later. As of June 2022, over 541 million people have been infected causing 6.32 million deaths.
Symptoms of COVID
The typical symptoms of COVID include:
- Loss of smell or taste
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
Additionally, and less frequently, patients who develop a severe infection commonly experience pneumonia and cytokine release syndrome, in some cases leading to death. At the time of writing there are 7 variants in circulation, 5 of which are variants of concern which are more likely to cause severe disease. The list of current variants are:
- Alpha (Concern)
- Beta (Concern)
- Delta (Concern)
- Gamma (Concern)
- Lambda (Interest)
- Mu (Interest)
- Omicron (Concern)
The delta variant has been noted as the deadliest variant, potentially due to causing a more severe cough than other variants.
But what about Omicron?
We have collected our top 5 questions about the omicron variant so that you can fully understand the omicron variant.
When did Omicron appear?
Omicron was first identified in November of 2021 in South Africa but is now found across the world and is potentially the most prevalent COVID variant worldwide. It is currently the most prevalent variant in the UK and Northern Europe.
How easily does Omicron spread?
Omicron is roughly 30% to 60% more transmissible than other COVID variants. This may be due to omicron multiplying around 70 times faster.
As with other variants of COVID, omicron spreads through water droplets passed through coughs, sneezes and physical contact. And the faster a virus can multiply, and produce greater numbers of itself, the higher the chance of transmission from one person to another. Imagine it this way, you are more likely to be hit by a ball if 100 are thrown at you than if 1 is.
What symptoms does Omicron produce?
Omicron is reported to produce the unique symptom of night sweats, along with the typical symptoms mentioned above. The most frequently reported symptoms of omicron include:
- a runny nose
- sore throat
How bad is it compared to Delta?
Omicron normally produces less severe infections than the delta variant. The delta variant is found to produce severe coughs deep within the lung tissue, whereas omicron is not able to penetrate deep lung tissue. However, as previously mentioned, omicron is more transmissible and more able to avoid detection from the body’s immune system.
Will vaccines work against Omicron?
Current vaccines continue to provide protection against severe disease and hospitalisations from infections, especially after third doses of an mRNA vaccine. However more vaccines may need to be produced or adapted to fit with further mutations of COVID variants. To help produce new treatments against COVID, colds and flus consider applying to FluCamp at Paid Clinical Trial Volunteer Applications | Join The Fight | FluCamp.