Welcome to episode 492 of The Whole View! This week, Dr. Sarah and Stacy break down the science of the new Omicron Variant of Covid-19 to see how it compares to other variants and why it’s so much more contagious.
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- Every time Stacy and Dr. Sarah do one of these Covid-19 shows, they hope it will be the last. Sadly, that’s not the case. This week is the first of a two-parter on the Omicron Variant. Stacy and Dr. Sarah share this information to help you make an informed decision, not tell you what to do or how to do it. They are not medical professionals giving medical advice. So, be sure to include your primary doctor in your health decisions.
- How do you pronounce it? The UK & Canadian pronunciation is Oh-mi-cron, close to the Greek pronunciation Oh-me-krun. The US pronunciation is more Aw-mi-cron. Both are okay, but not om-knee-cron.
- The biggest contributing to the concern around Omicron is just how insanely contagious it is (6:58). It accounts for most cases in the USA, which means it is unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon. Previously, Delta was believed to be maximum contagious, which Omicron has proven incorrect.
- The biggest hypnosis for why Omicron has higher contagion rates is that it can jump between species; however, the cases in animals are mild. So, if you’ve been exposed to Covid recently and your pets don’t seem to be feeling well, they might not be. Don’t worry about catching it from your pets! This could also explain why we see so many more mutations and “immune escape” with Omicron.
- We see increased breakthrough infections in vaccinated individuals because Omicron is just different enough from the education our bodies received from exposure via the vaccines that it doesn’t have as fast of a response as with previous variants.
- Dr. Sarah lists the most common symptoms of the Omicron Variant (42:37). Cases spread by asymptomatic individuals seem higher with Omicron but still at a significantly lower rate than symptomatic cases. Additionally, Omicron symptoms lean toward upper respiratory symptoms (like a cold) and less like pneumonia, as seen with earlier variants.
- Vaccination protection does apply to Omicron, especially with the booster, but it’s important to emphasize this is not a “mild infection” like the common cold. Dr. Sarah notes it’s easier to explain away as common illness, so be sure to get still tested and reduce the spread if you’re sick. This isn’t something we want to mess around with, and we still don’t understand the potential long-term impacts.
- Stacy had Covid at the beginning of the pandemic, and even now (a year and a half later), she’s still experiencing breathing difficulties and brain fog. She worries about damage to her heart or brain and how this might impact her future health. So, despite Omicron being comparatively “mild,” that does not mean you want to expose yourself to “get it over with.”
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Recommended Reading & Listening
- COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review | CDC
- Pronouncing ‘Omicron’: ‘AH-muh-cron’ or ‘Oh-MY-cron’?
- Understanding the Omicron variant’s mutations – The Washington Post
- If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus – Harvard Health
- What we know about the Omicron COVID-19 variant so far
Past Covid Shows
- 486: Covid-19 Vaccines for Children
- 485: Covid-19 Boosters for Adults
- 468: The Delta Covid-19 Variant
- 455: Covid-19 Vaccines – Real World Data and Updated Vaccine Studies
- 454: The J&J and AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccines
- 444: Covid-19 Vaccine Myths and FAQ Part 4
- 443: Covid-19 Vaccines Part 3 – Myths and FAQ’s
- 441: COVID-19 Vaccines Part 2 – Pfizer/BioNTech vs Moderna
- 440: COVID-19 Vaccines Part 1 – mRNA Vaccine Technology
- 425: Covid-19 FAQ Part 4
- 412: Covid-19 FAQ, Part 3
- 403: Stacy Has Covid-19, Now What?
- 401: Covid-19 NEW FAQ
Sources & References
- Evidence for a mouse origin of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant
- Omicron variant and booster COVID-19 vaccines – The Lancet Respiratory Medicine
- SARS-CoV-2 Omicron VOC Transmission in Danish Households
- Infectious viral load in unvaccinated and vaccinated patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 WT, Delta and Omicron | medRxiv
- SARS-CoV-2 Omicron spike mediated immune escape, infectivity and cell-cell fusion | bioRxiv
- Eurosurveillance | Outbreak caused by the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant in Norway, November to December 2021
- Investigation of a SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.529 (Omicron) Variant Cluster — Nebraska, November–December 2021 | MMWR
- SARS-CoV-2 Transmission From People Without COVID-19 Symptoms
- Structural models of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant in complex with ACE2 receptor or antibodies suggest altered binding interfaces | bioRxiv
- High Rate of Asymptomatic Carriage Associated with Variant Strain Omicron | medRxiv
- HKUMed finds Omicron SARS-CoV-2 can infect faster and better than Delta in human bronchus but with less severe infection in lung
- Early assessment of the clinical severity of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant in South Africa | medRxiv
- Early signals of significantly increased vaccine breakthrough, decreased hospitalization rates, and less severe disease in patients with COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 in Houston, Texas | medRxiv
- Clinical outcomes among patients infected with Omicron (B.1.1.529) SARS-CoV-2 variant in southern California
- SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and variants under investigation
- SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and variants under investigation
- Severity of Omicron variant of concern and vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease: national cohort with nested test negative design study in Scotland — University of Edinburgh Research Explorer
- Effectiveness of 3 doses of COVID-19 vaccines against symptomatic COVID-19 and hospitalization in adults aged 65 years and older
- Protection afforded by prior infection against SARS-CoV-2 reinfection with the Omicron variant
- Omicron infection enhances neutralizing immunity against the Delta variant
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