Despite the unprecedented success of the coronavirus vaccine, Covid’s unpredictability has made the virus incredibly difficult to suppress. The rapid evolution of the virus has also caused great challenges in tracking symptoms. With more than 300 subvariants of Omicron currently in circulation, doctors are highlighting some of the most frequently encountered signs of the latest strain.
Maria Van Kerkhove, Infection Disease Epidemiologist with the WHO Health Emergencies Programme recently warned: “Right now we’re in a situation where we have more than 300 sub-variants of Omicron that are in circulation, and these sub-variants are quite similar to each other.”
The classic symptoms of the variant are currently a cough, which may be chronic or develop into bronchitis.
Fatigue may also interfere with a person’s daily activities, as may headaches, fever, runny nose, and itchy throat.
Irritation of the throat has also been tied with reports of difficulty swallowing and muscle pain, which is medically known as odynophagia.
Bronchitis describes inflammation of the airways of the lungs, causing them to become irritated and inflamed.
According to the NHSInform, the main symptom of bronchitis is a “hacking cough”.
The healthy body continues: “It is likely that your cough will bring up thick yellow-grey mucus (phlegm), although this does not always happen.
“Other symptoms of bronchitis are similar to those of other infections such as the common cold or sinusitis, and mainly include a sore throat.”
According to the Family Care Centers, a bronchitis cough may sound like a “rattle with a wheezing or whistling sound”.
In some cases, this wheezing or whistling sound may persist when breathing, several health bodies confirm.
The British Medical Journal reported earlier in 2022: “Tracheo bronchitis of Omicron causes secretions not seen in Delta.
“So a sore throat with mild secretions is seen with Omicron infections. Often patients do not expectorate the secretions but may just swallow.”
A study from the University of Hong Kong discovered in 2022 that the Omicron Covid variant multiplied about 70 times quicker in the bronchial tissue compared to its predecessors.
The study also found that the variant area was approximately 10 times slower in lung tissue, which the authors said might indicate lower disease severity.
This chimes with observations made by a doctor in India last week, which confirmed that Omicron symptoms appeared to last for longer durations than their predecessors, but elicit milder illness.
Doctor Sonam Solanki, consultant pulmonology and bronchoscopist, at Masina Hospital in Mumbai, described his most frequently encountered symptoms to the Hindustan Times.
He said: “The new sub-variant is quite infectious but it is showing mild symptoms.
“Even though the symptoms are mild, patients may remain symptomatic for a longer time.”
The expert confirmed that a chronic cough or bronchitis which persists after an infection in the upper respiratory tract is often seen, alongside persistent fatigue.
It is widely believed that the latest strain has been harder to quell due to its innate ability to evade immune responses.