Covid symptoms: Omicron sub-variants circulating in UK – ‘signs to look out for’

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Scientist Denis Kinane warned: “With Covid restrictions removed, waning immunity from vaccination and low levels of public testing, the number of Covid cases could well rise again.” While the sub-variants of Omicron have been in circulation since January of this year, mostly in South Africa, there is no indication of additional symptoms of infection. Thus, people infected by Omicron BA.4 or BA.5 can expect to experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Loss of smell
  • Fatigue
  • Malaise.

“Symptoms will, however, continue to be closely monitored by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and health bodies,” said Kinane.

The scientist emphasised that “the virus will continue to mutate and new variants will inevitably emerge”.

As for Omicron BA.4 and BA.5, there is currently no evidence that they cause more severe disease than the original strains.

Some variants, however, have the potential to enhance severity of disease, yet this isn’t the only factor to consider.

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“The severity of disease caused is not simply due to the virus but also depends on our immunity,” Kinane pointed out.

“Currently a high proportion of our population has experienced natural infections and we have high vaccine coverage.”

But, over time, protection gained from the vaccine boosters will decline.

“We are likely to need more booster jabs in future as this immunity wanes, especially for the medically vulnerable,” said Kinane.

“The worst scenario would be a new variant appearing that is both more virulent and capable of evading our immune system due to excessive mutation.”

Kinane cautioned this is “not an impossible scenario”, which is why he believes the UK “needs to retain testing and sequencing capacity”.

In regards to Omicron BA.4 and BA.5, there has only been a “handful of studies” on the Covid variants.

“Knowledge about them remains limited,” Kinane admitted, but he is sure that Covid vaccination will still offer good protection against them.

As of Friday, May 20, the UK government has recorded a decline in hospital admissions due to Covid.

In the past seven days, there has been a decrease of more than 16 percent compared to the week prior.

The number of deaths from Covid has also been decreasing by almost 30 percent compared to last week.

Such statistics demonstrate the effectiveness of vaccination against severe disease.

People who are infected with Covid are still advised by the NHS to self-isolate at home.

“Take extra care to avoid close contact with anyone who is at higher risk of getting seriously ill from Covid,” the NHS noted.

“You can go back to your normal activities when you feel better or do not have a high temperature.”

Denis Kinane is the founding scientist at Cignpost Diagnostics.

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