While there’s a general consensus that an infection caused by Omicron is milder than Delta, some experts feel that symptoms of the new variant of concern are nothing to sneeze at.
Speaking to CNN, Dr Shira Doron, an epidemiologist and infectious disease physician at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, says those with minor illness due to coronavirus can feel quite “uncomfortable” and may develop the dreaded “long Covid”, or when symptoms persist for months and may damage the vital organs.
In recent days, as the Omicron variant sends cases skyrocketing worldwide, more and more testimonies have piled up of people being diagnosed with mild Covid infection but still feeling like death. Even people who are fully vaccinated or have taken booster shots are susceptible.
“When we or when the CDC or the NIH says ‘mild,’ we really mean it didn’t make you sick enough to go to the hospital,” Dr Doron told CNN. “But when you get a flu-like illness that puts you in bed, that’s not mild to you.”
Dr Doron thinks the “mild” term that experts throw around may need to be redefined. Moreover, calling the disease “mild” may lull people into not taking Covid-19 seriously, which could only lead to more cases and put further strain on the healthcare system.
Although the patient may be feeling crappy, the symptoms are a positive sign as they indicate that their body’s immune system is fighting the virus. Such symptoms aren’t dangerous and do not require medical care or hospitalisation, Dr Doron says.
Dr William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, stresses that those with minor symptoms should not ignore it and get tested for Covid. “So they know to watch for worsening symptoms that need medical care. A test will also tell them if they need to isolate themselves so they don’t spread the coronavirus to others,” he told CNN.
The doctor also added that people shouldn’t skip vaccines or boosters just because Omicron has become the dominant variant and causes less severe illness as compared to the strains that came before. The unvaccinated who contract an Omicron infection can still end up in the ICU and “never get back their lives”, according Dr Claudia Hoyen of UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland.