The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is highly transmissible. Healthcare providers and scientists are concerned over this variant because it has more mutations than the original strain. The UK Health Service Agency (UKHSA) has said that they are currently investigating a variant that spreads much faster than the BA.1 strain, but it is one level below the status of ‘variant of concern’, and can also escape tracking.
However, initial analysis shows that there are no differences in hospitalisation for BA.2 when compared to BA.1. “It is expected that vaccines also have an effect against severe illness upon BA.2 infection,’ Denmark’s Statens Serum Institut said in a statement. Despite it being a mild subvariant, what separates it from the original strain is its ability to escape the tracking process.
Negative test results a possibility
According to experts, the Stealth Omicron lacks a mutation, which is very important to detect COVID-19. The UKHSA said that the presence of a genetic deletion in the ‘S” spike gene helps in detecting COVID-19 with an RT-PCR test. But there is no S gene drop out in the stealth Omicron, making it difficult to track and also highly problematic.
This is why there is the possibility that a person with COVID-19 symptoms may be tested negative. Considering this, you need to be more careful than usual.
What you need to do
US-based epidemiologist Faheem Younus has warned that people should not take mild symptoms of Omicron lightly, even if they are tested negative for COVID-19.
The doctor suggested that one should take a test again in another 24 to 48 hours if the first test result comes out to be negative even if you have symptoms. Also, Dr Younus said that such a person should isolate himself or herself for 5 to 10 days.