You asked, we answered. Our experts have sorted through the most common questions we’ve received about the Omicron Variant.
Omicron is a relatively newer variant of COVID19 but has spread across the globe in a very short span of time. It has caused a lot of panic among people; especially, due to the misinformation about Omicron being spread everywhere.
Access to true and relevant information is key to successfully navigating through such turbulent times. So, today we have experts weigh in on symptoms, masking, vaccine effectiveness and other aspects of Omicron –
1. Is Omicron different from COVID19?
Omicron is basically a variant, like the previously detected Delta variant, of SARS-CoV-2 which is the virus that causes COVID19. It was first discovered in South Africa and WHO recognised it as a ‘variant of concern’ in late Nov’21.
2. What are the symptoms of Omicron?
Omicron variant symptoms vary from people to people; however, the most commonly found symptoms include –
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Headache, and
3. Should I get a rapid antigen test or is PCR test a better option?
Doctors suggest that if you have access to a rapid antigen test, it is a good idea to use one. If it shows a positive result, you can rely on the same. However, Omicron variant has the ability to bypass a rapid antigen test. Hence, it is advised that if you test negative on a rapid antigen test but are experiencing one or more symptoms then get a PCR test done as well.
4. Omicron is seemingly not causing serious illness. Should I still get tested if I show symptoms or just let it pass?
Preliminary data suggests that Omicron variant is not causing serious diseases like pneumonia. It is not affecting the lungs and is mostly restricted to the upper respiratory system. However, if you have symptoms, you must get tested since it can –
- Allow you access to various treatment options, in case, you test positive.
- If you are indeed infected, you should isolate yourself to avoid infecting others. Hence, it is recommended to get tested if you suspect you have been exposed to COVID or are experiencing any symptom
5. I have been fully vaccinated. Can I still get infected with Omicron?
Yes, you can get infected with Omicron despite being vaccinated. Various cases have come to light wherein fully vaccinated individuals have also contracted the Omicron variant. It means that the Omicron variant can bypass vaccines. However, fortunately, data suggests that vaccination is effectively providing protection against severe illness in most cases.
6. I have been exposed to COVID but I am vaccinated and not showing any symptoms. Should I still get tested?
If you believe that you have been exposed to COVID19, it is advised to get tested after 5-7 days of initial exposure. Early testing and diagnosis will allow you to access better treatment options, in case, your illness progresses. It will also help you isolate sooner and avoid infecting others.
7. I have already been infected with COVID earlier; can I get infected with Omicron?
When you are infected with a virus, your immune system generates a response which helps your body fight-off the virus when it is exposed to it again. However, this immune response varies from person to person. Hence, if your immunity has waned-off, there are high chances that you can get re-infected. Many such cases have already been recorded.
8. How effective is a mask against the Omicron variant?
Omicron is highly infectious and a mask is the best way to reduce your chances of getting infected. Wear a proper mask that covers your nose and mouth. It is best advised to wear a mask, especially, when you are at a public place or in a gathering.