SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Discovered only a couple of months ago, the omicron variant of COVID-19 has taken hold of the United States, and is now powering a quick rise in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Omicron's rapid and strong onset, and its unique qualities, means many people don't recognize this version of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's changed how you should protect yourself and your family, what it means to get tested and what getting sick looks like.
And omicron has reshaped the immediate future of the pandemic.
Here are nine pressing questions about the omicron variant, and what you should do about it.
Note: This information is current as of Jan. 18, 2022. Keep that in mind as you seek current information.
1. Is the omicron variant different from other COVID-19 variants?
Yes. The omicron variant is significantly different from previous variants, including the previously dominant delta variant. Omicron is much more contagious, meaning the virus has more chances to infect other people, accelerating how quickly it spreads. While its effects appear to be generally more mild than previous strains of the virus, it's still capable of causing severe illness and death, especially because it has more chances to infect more people and because fewer treatment options work with omicron. That's why the omicron variant is causing a growing number of hospitalizations and deaths.
Getting fully vaccinated — with a booster shot if at all possible — remains the single best way to keep the virus from causing severe illness or death.
2. What tests should you take and when?
A PCR test , the kind you can get from a nose swab that is processed in a laboratory, remains the gold standard for detecting COVID-19, including the COVID-19 variant. However, this test is a more sensitive and labor-intensive test. It can be inconvenient to get and its results can take longer to receive. But under most circumstances, PCR tests are free.
At-home antigen tests are less sensitive, cost money, and can be hard to find these days. But they return rapid results which means they're more helpful for making decisions about if you should isolate yourself from others.
3. How can you make sure you get the most value out of your at-home tests?
Time taking them.
Consider throat swabbing. False negatives are always a greater risk with at-home rapid antigen tests, although positives are nearly always true positives. However, some preliminary research has shown omicron can be more difficult for antigen tests to detect in the early days of an infection, when the virus is most infectious, although it's not clear how much more difficult omicron is to detect early.
An early study indicates omicron may show up in rapid antigen testings earlier via saliva collected by throat swabs. That's led some public health experts to recommend people use the swabs provided in their at-home tests to test both their throat and nose. However, the Food and Drug Administration still has safety concerns about using at-home test swabs on your throat.THE LATEST OMICRON NEWS: picture"> NewsMD Doctors warn: Don't count on getting outpatient omicron treatments When given early, lab-engineered antibody infusions have reduced COVID-19 hospitalizations among persons at high risk. Previous versions of these treatments do not appear to work against the omicron variant, however. Replacement products are in short supply, with providers given a few dozen treatments weekly while managing hundreds of new patients. January 19, 2022 04:00 PM · By Paul John Scott NewsMD North Dakota breaks COVID-19 positivity rate record for 5th consecutive day January 19, 2022 12:19 PM Minnesota 105 temporary health care workers set to deploy to Minnesota hospitals this week January 19, 2022 11:36 AM
Source : https://www.inforum.com/newsmd/q-a-9-things-to-know-about-the-covid-19-omicron-variant1076