People With Omicron Spread COVID Much More Easily – Even Symptom-Free

A major factor behind the Omicron variant’s rapid and widespread circulation even in vaccinated people.

A major factor behind the Omicron variant’s rapid and widespread circulation even in vaccinated people.

Omicron appears to have a much higher asymptomatic carriage rate than earlier COVID-19 strains, studies suggest.

This may explain why Omicron spreads so rapidly across populations causing higher rates of infection relative to other coronavirus variants.

Asymptomatic carriage is when infected individuals with COVID show no symptoms but pass the disease along.

The increased Omicron asymptomatic carrier rate has led to far greater numbers of coronavirus cases even in the vaccinated.

A South African study has found that asymptomatic carriage during Beta and Delta outbreaks was 2.6 percent while this rose to 16 percent for Omicron, suggesting a 7 times higher infection rate.

Dr Lawrence Corey, the study’s senior author, said:

“As we witness the quick, global spread of omicron, it is clear that we urgently need a better understanding of the transmission dynamics of this variant.

Since so many people may be asymptomatic, we can’t always know who is carrying the virus, but we do know what we can do to protect ourselves and to help prevent further spread: Wear a mask; wash your hands; avoid large, indoor gatherings; and get fully vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Researchers from Hong Kong University found that the Omicron reproduction rate in the human lung was 10 times slower than the Delta variant, while 70 times faster than Delta in the bronchus.

The study has not been published yet but their findings indicate that Omicron is spreading faster but causes less severe disease than Delta.

However, Dr Michael Chan Chi-wai, the study’s lead author, cautioned:

“By infecting many more people, a very infectious virus may cause more severe disease and death even though the virus itself may be less pathogenic.

Given its ability to partially escape immunity from vaccines and past infection, the overall threat from the omicron variant is likely to be very significant.”

The study was published in Medrxiv (Garrett et al., 2021).

The Vitamin Deficiency Linked To COVID-19 Deaths

Low levels of this nutrient linked to high COVID-19 death rates found in 20 countries.

Low levels of this nutrient linked to high COVID-19 death rates found in 20 countries.

A large number of COVID-19 cases and high death rates could be related to vitamin D deficiency, a study has found.

Past studies have suggested that low status of vitamin D increases the likelihood of respiratory tract infections.

Vitamin D is crucial for immediate immune response through adjusting white blood cell reaction and reducing their production of cytokines.

Inflammatory cytokines are signalling molecules secreted from immune cells to promote inflammation.

An overload of cytokines would make a disease worse, as it is pro-inflammatory.

The COVID-19 virus triggers the body’s defence system, resulting in an extreme production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Researchers tracked data across 20 countries in Europe and found that vitamin D can help prevent coronavirus disease and death.

Older people are at the most risk of COVID-19 infection and the study shows that this age group across countries such as Italy, Switzerland, and Spain are seriously deficient in vitamin D.

Low levels of vitamin D in southern Europe seems to be related to factors such as avoiding strong sun and preferring the shade, and skin pigmentation, which reduces the synthesis of natural vitamin D.

Conversely, vitamin D levels are higher in Northern Europe as a result of vitamin D supplements, cod liver oil intake, vitamin D fortification of milk and dairy products in countries like Sweden and Finland, and less avoiding of the sun.

These may be a factor in Scandinavians being among the countries with the least cases of coronavirus and lowest death rates per capita.

Dr Lee Smith, study lead author, said:

“We found a significant crude relationship between average vitamin D levels and the number COVID-19 cases, and particularly COVID-19 mortality rates, per head of population across the 20 European countries.

Vitamin D has been shown to protect against acute respiratory infections, and older adults, the group most deficient in vitamin D, are also the ones most seriously affected by COVID-19.

A previous study found that 75% of people in institutions, such as hospitals and care homes, were severely deficient in vitamin D.

We suggest it would be advisable to perform dedicated studies looking at vitamin D levels in COVID-19 patients with different degrees of disease severity.”

The study was published in Aging Clinical and Experimental Research (Ilie et al., 2020).

COVID: The Vitamin That Reduces COVID-19 Risk By 50%

A sufficient level of this vitamin could halve the risk of catching coronavirus and protect COVID-19 patients from the worst of the disease.

A sufficient level of this vitamin could halve the risk of catching coronavirus and protect COVID-19 patients from the worst of the disease.

Vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of COVID-19 infection and the severity of the disease, if it is caught, research finds.

Professor Michael Holick, study co-author, said:

“Because vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is so widespread in children and adults in the United States and worldwide, especially in the winter months, it is prudent for everyone to take a vitamin D supplement to reduce risk of being infected and having complications from COVID-19.”

A blood level of 30 nanogram per millilitre of vitamin D has been shown to protect patients with COVID-19 against complications and death, as well as reducing the risk of getting ill by a large amount.

According to a study, COVID-19 patients with adequate levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D are less likely to have severe clinical problems from the illness.

These outcomes include hypoxia — poor oxygen supply to the body — being unconscious, and death.

25-hydroxyvitamin D is produced in the liver and it is a major form of vitamin D3 and vitamin D2.

Also, patients with a sufficient amount of vitamin D have higher levels of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell which fights infection, and their blood shows a lower level of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory indicator.

Professor Holick said:

“This study provides direct evidence that vitamin D sufficiency can reduce the complications, including the cytokine storm (release of too many proteins into the blood too quickly) and ultimately death from COVID-19.”

The study examined 235 hospitalized coronavirus patients to see if serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels can change the severe clinical outcomes from the disease.

Vitamin D status, numbers of lymphocytes, and C-reactive protein were analysed from patient’s blood samples.

The patients were also checked for severity of the infection, breathing difficulties, unconsciousness and hypoxia.

The analysis showed that patients with a blood level of at least 30 ng/mL of 25-hydroxyvitamin D had a 52 percent higher chance of surviving the infection than those with lower levels of vitamin D.

Professor Holick, in a recent study, revealed that an adequate amount of vitamin D can lower the odds of becoming infected with COVID-19 by 54 percent.

Vitamin D sufficiency helps to overcome the coronavirus disease and other types of upper respiratory infections such as influenza.

Professor Holick pointed out:

“There is great concern that the combination of an influenza infection and a coronal viral infection could substantially increase hospitalizations and death due to complications from these viral infections.”

Vitamin D is a cheap but effective way to boost people’s immune system against the virus and can decrease health-related issues such as needing ventilatory support and immune system overactivity resulting in cytokine storm.

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE  (Maghbooli et al., 2020).

COVID: Higher Levels Of These Vitamins And Minerals Can Reduce Infection Risk

The nutrients and doses that could be effective at reducing coronavirus risk.

The nutrients and doses that could be effective at reducing coronavirus risk.

Some vitamins and other micronutrients in higher dosages than the recommended dietary guidelines are more effective and safe in warding off common respiratory tract infections as well as COVID-19, experts suggest.

Dietary supplements containing certain vitamins, minerals, and essentials fatty acids are important for a healthy immune system.

Among these nutrients docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, vitamin D, vitamin C, and zinc are crucial for our immune system:

  • Exposure to the sun is the main source of vitamin D,
  • citrus fruits such as oranges are rich in vitamin C,
  • red meat, nuts and seeds are good sources of zinc,
  • and oily fishes are rich sources of DHA.

Professor Adrian Gombart, the study’s senior author, said:

“The roles that vitamins C and D play in immunity are particularly well known.

Vitamin C has roles in several aspects of immunity, including the growth and function of immune cells and antibody production.

Vitamin D receptors on immune cells also affect their function.

This means that vitamin D profoundly influences your response to infections.

The problem is that people simply aren’t eating enough of these nutrients.

This could destroy your resistance to infections.

Consequently, we will see an increase in disease and all of the extra burdens that go along with that increase.”

Researchers argue that taking a daily multivitamin supplement is not good enough.

To see their beneficial health effect we need to take the correct amounts of these micronutrients.

For instance, the current national dietary guidelines for vitamin C is 50 milligrams (mg) for women and 75 mg for men but that needs to be corrected to a dosage of 200 mg or even higher.

The Federal recommendation for vitamin D intake, depending on age, is from 400 to 800 international units, but vitamin D dosage should be 2,000 international units.

Professor Gombart said:

“Around the world, acute respiratory tract infections kill more than 2.5 million people every year.

Meanwhile, there’s a wealth of data that shows the role that good nutrition plays in supporting the immune system.

As a society we need to be doing a better job of getting that message across along with the other important, more common messages.”

Professor Gombart notes that the potential damage is very high.

Around the world, influenza alone causes millions of people to be hospitalized and several hundred thousand to be killed each year.

Professor Gombart said:

“A number of standard public health practices have been developed to help limit the spread and impact of respiratory viruses: regular hand washing, avoiding those showing symptoms of infection, and covering coughs.

And for certain viruses like influenza, there are annual vaccination campaigns.”

We all hope an effective vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 will be available soon, but a vaccine alone is not the complete answer to infections.

The impact of nutrition on the immune system should be part of public health strategies as this can reduce the infection rates and save many lives.

Professor Gombart concluded:

“The present situation with COVID-19 and the number of people dying from other respiratory infections make it clear that we are not doing enough.

We strongly encourage public health officials to include nutritional strategies in their arsenal.”

The study was published in the journal of Nutrients (Calder et al., 2020).

How To Boost Your Immune Response To The COVID Vaccine

Changing thoughts and behaviours increases vaccine effectiveness and duration of immunity.

Changing thoughts and behaviours increases vaccine effectiveness and duration of immunity.

Simple steps like getting enough exercise and sleep will boost the immune system and increase the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.

That is because reducing levels of depression, stress and loneliness strengthens the body’s immune system.

A stronger immune system will, in turn, help trigger a stronger response to the COVID vaccine.

The researchers suggests that even doing some exercise and getting a good night’s sleep the day before receiving the vaccine helps ensure the body’s immune system is in the best shape possible.

A strong immune system also helps reduce the risk of side-effects from the vaccine.

Ms Annelise Madison, the study’s first author, said:

“In addition to the physical toll of COVID-19, the pandemic has an equally troubling mental health component, causing anxiety and depression, among many other related problems.

Emotional stressors like these can affect a person’s immune system, impairing their ability to ward off infections.

Our new study sheds light on vaccine efficacy and how health behaviors and emotional stressors can alter the body’s ability to develop an immune response.

The trouble is that the pandemic in and of itself could be amplifying these risk factors.”

The researchers reviewed 30 years of studies finding that psychological factors have a profound effect on immune system response.

Poor health, stress, depression and loneliness can all impair vaccine response.

However, there are many different methods to fight poor mental health and boost immune response.

For example, habitual moderate to vigorous intensity workouts can boost the immune system.

Even loneliness can be tackled to boost the immune system, despite lockdowns.

Ms Madison said:

“Prior research suggests that psychological and behavioral interventions can improve vaccine responsiveness.

Even shorter-term interventions can be effective.

Therefore, now is the time to identify those at risk for a poor immune response and intervene on these risk factors.”

Vaccines work by challenging the immune system.

The body’s cells recognise a potential threat and start to work against it — eventually producing antibodies.

Professor Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, study co-author, said:

“In our research, we focus most heavily on the antibody response, though it is just one facet of the adaptive immune system’s response.”

Changing patterns of thought and behaviour can help to increase vaccine effectiveness and increase the duration of immunity.

The study was published in the journal Perspectives In Psychological Science (Madison et al., 2021).

Omicron Symptoms Now Include Loss Of Appetite – Replacing Cough And Loss Of Senses

The sign of the new Omicron variant which can appear when eating.

The sign of the new Omicron variant which can appear when eating.

One surprising symptom of the Omicron variant of COVID is a loss of appetite.

Although this is not one of the main symptoms that people are reporting, it is still present on the list.

The symptoms of Omicron are different to those of the Delta variant of COVID.

For example, only 50 percent of people are reporting experiencing three of the most common symptoms of delta:

  • loss of sense of smell or taste,
  • fever,
  • cough.

Instead, people with Omicron are most often reporting these five symptoms:

  • sore throat,
  • headache,
  • fatigue,
  • runny nose,
  • and sneezing.

Some people are also reporting a ‘brain fog’.

This refers to feeling a sense of forgetfulness, confusion and lack of mental clarity.

The insight into the symptoms of the Omicron variant of COVID comes from the UK-based ZOE COVID study.

The study has been monitoring the effects of the new Omicron variant.

These have been compared with the symptoms reported by people when the Delta variant was at its peak.

Telling a cold from COVID

There is certainly understandable confusion between the different variants and the common cold, which is also rampant at this time of year.

For example, previously a runny or stuffy nose was a common symptom of a cold, but not of COVID (the Delta variant).

However, now people are reporting a runny or stuffy nose as a common symptom of Omicron.

Similarly, sneezing was relatively rare with Delta, but is now being reported much more frequently in connection with Omicron.

Previously, a fever was a strong sign that what you had was COVID, perhaps one of the strongest.

Now, though, people with Omicron are not reporting a fever.

How serious is Omicron?

So far the data suggests that the Omicron variant of COVID, while spreading quicker, is milder than Delta.

The proportion of people being hospitalised with the disease in many countries is lower than with Delta.

While it is possible that Omicron is milder, it is also true that many people around the world have built up natural immunity due to infection and vaccination.


How To Deal With COVID-19 Stress

The ability to adapt to the new circumstances is the key.

The ability to adapt to the new circumstances is the key.

Staying in touch with your emotions is a good way to deal with COVID-19 stress, research reveals.

It is natural to experience emotions like sadness, fear, loneliness and anxiety during the pandemic.

However, people who are psychologically flexible tend to do better.

Flexibility means acknowledging emotions, accepting them and taking whatever action is possible.

Continuing to do whatever is important to you — even if it is in modified form — is key to reducing stress.

For example, people in the study who called a family member or friend to talk it through experienced less stress than those who bottled it up and said nothing.

Dr Emily Kroska, the study’s first author, said:

“The goal is to try and help people become more resilient by remaining in touch with their emotions and finding creative ways to maintain or build upon relationships with people or activities that are important to them.

People who do that will generally not be as distressed, or anxious, as those who don’t.”

The study included 485 people in the US who described the difficulties they had faced due to the pandemic.

Dr Kroska said:

“Basically, we wanted to learn about the full sort of adversities that people encountered due to COVID-19.

We found everyone encountered some degree of adversity, which is quite sad but expected.”

People reported physical sensations like sweating and fear as well as problems making the rent, getting their groceries and living apart from loved ones.

The study revealed that people experienced less stress if they displayed psychological flexibility.

This is the ability to be open and aware of one’s emotions and how they are affecting one’s actions.

Dr Kroska said:

“If you are creative with trying to talk with your family remotely instead of in person, but you’re resentful about it the whole time and think it sucks, that’s going to cause more distress.

But if you’re willing to say, ‘OK, this isn’t what we were exactly hoping for, but we’re going to make the best of it,’ that’s the values and the openness piece.

It’s the combination that’s required.”

Being able to adapt to the new circumstances is the key, said Dr Kroska:

“People don’t want to be distressed, but they’re going to be during this pandemic.

Being flexible and continuing to do what is important to you even during these difficult times is important and is associated with less distress.

I think people are desperate for anything that will help them feel less stressed out.”

The study was published in the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (Kroska et al., 2020).

The Sign Of A More Severe COVID-19 Infection

Patients with COVID-19 who have high levels of this hormone are at greater risk.

Patients with COVID-19 who have high levels of this hormone are at greater risk.

Cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone, puts individuals who have been tested positive for coronavirus disease at higher risk of death.

COVID-19 patients with a high cortisol level are in danger of declining very fast and dying, a study has found.

It also suggests that cortisol levels in the blood can signal how severe the illness is and so it can be a useful marker to single out those patients in need of critical care.

When we are under stress our body produces cortisol: a steroid hormone to help us deal with the problem.

Cortisol levels would rise with issues like changes in metabolism, high blood pressure, heart disease, illnesses, and immune response.

The highest levels of cortisol in healthy people occur naturally in the morning and the lowest at night during sleep.

In healthy situations or while resting, serum cortisol concentration is from 100 to 200 nmol/L and when we sleep the levels go down to almost zero.

Low or high cortisol levels are similarly dangerous and potentially fatal as they can damage the immune system seriously and increase the risk of all sorts of infections.

The study found that cortisol levels in a group of patients with COVID-19 were considerably higher compared to the patient group without COVID-19.

The cortisol stress responses in the patients with COVID-19 reached a range up to 3,241 nmol/L.

This was much higher even than patients who undergo major surgery, when generally levels stay below 1,000 nmol/L.

The average survival for those COVID-19 patients with cortisol concentration of 744 nmol/L or less was 36 days and it got worse for those with cortisol values over 744 nmol/L as they only lived for an average of 15 days.

Professor Waljit Dhillo, the study’s lead author, said:

“From an endocrinologist’s perspective, it makes sense that those COVID-19 patients who are the sickest will have higher levels of cortisol, but these levels are worryingly high.

Three months ago when we started seeing this wave of COVID-19 patients here in London hospitals, we had very little information about how to best triage people.

Now, when people arrive at hospital, we potentially have another simple marker to use alongside oxygen saturation levels to help us identify which patients need to be admitted immediately, and which may not.

Having an early indicator of which patients may deteriorate more quickly will help us with providing the best level of care as quickly as possible, as well as helping manage the pressure on the NHS.

In addition, we can also take cortisol levels into account when we are working out how best to treat our patients.”

The death rate throughout the study period for patients in the COVID-19 group was 27.8 percent whereas the rate for the non-COVID group was 6.8 percent.

The study was published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology (Tan et al., 2020).

How Diabetics Can Reduce COVID-19 Risk

How diabetics can enhance their survival rate against the coronavirus infection.

How diabetics can enhance their survival rate against the coronavirus infection.

People with good blood sugar control are less likely to need oxygen or ventilation support and more likely to surviving coronavirus.

More and more evidence shows that people with type 2 diabetes are at higher risk of developing a coronavirus infection or dying of COVID-19.

However, a study provides some positive news for those diabetic patients with well-controlled blood glucose.

These patients have a much better chance of surviving compared to those with poorly controlled blood sugar levels.

Professor Hongliang Li, the study’s senior author, said:

“We were surprised to see such favourable outcomes in well-controlled blood glucose group among patients with COVID-19 and pre-existing type 2 diabetes.

Considering that people with diabetes had much higher risk for death and various complications, and there are no specific drugs for COVID-19, our findings indicate that controlling blood glucose well may act as an effective auxiliary approach to improve the prognosis of patients with COVID-19 and pre-existing diabetes.”

Over half a billion people in the world have type 2 diabetes.

People with this health condition are one of the most frequent victims of COVID-19.

Therefore, the research team tracked 7,337 COVID-19 patients across 19 hospitals in which 952 of these were people with type 2 diabetes.

Those with diabetes who were admitted to hospitals needed more medical care and support to reduce the severity of COVID-19 infection.

In spite of all the medical interventions, patients with diabetes had a much higher death rate and multiple organ failure.

Their death rate was 7.8 percent versus 2.7 percent for the other patients with COVID-19.

However, the death incidence and health complications were much less in patients keeping blood sugar under control than those with poorly controlled diabetes.

In addition, the need for medical support such as oxygen or ventilation was lower in patients with well-controlled blood sugar levels.

The authors highlighted that people with diabetes should take more precautions to avoid infection.

If infected, then diabetic patients have to keep their blood sugar levels within the right range to reduce the severity of the infection.

The study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism (Zhu et al., 2020).

Omicron Symptoms: 5 Obvious Signs Of The Latest COVID Variant

So far Omicron symptoms have proved milder than those associated with the previously dominant Delta variant.

So far Omicron symptoms have proved milder than those associated with the previously dominant Delta variant.

Omicron symptoms and signs to look out for have proved different to the other variants of COVID, such as Delta.

So far Omicron symptoms have also been generally milder than those associated with the previously dominant Delta variant.

There are five signs that are often seen in cases of the Omicron variant of COVID:

  • a scratchy, dry throat,
  • extreme tiredness,
  • runny nose,
  • sneezing,
  • and headache.

The scratchy, dry throat is in contrast to Delta variant COVID, which tends to produce a sore throat and a dry, persistent cough.

Fever and sense of smell

The Omicron variant is not so strongly linked to some other signs that are frequently connected to COVID.

For example, a loss of the sense of smell does not seem to be linked to Omicron.

Similarly, people with Omicron are not reporting a high fever as often.

Infection with the Omicron variant can be difficult to diagnose without testing because the symptoms vary between people.

It will depend on the person’s age, their vaccination status and other biological factors specific to them.

Some people may experience a very heavy cold, others lighter symptoms and others no symptoms at all.

Having been infected with the Delta variant of COVID before, though, is no guarantee of avoiding Omicron.

Because the virus has mutated, it is possible to catch Omicron even after prior infection with Delta.

However, both prior infection and vaccination are very likely to reduce the risk of serious symptoms and hospitalisation.

COVID testing

A PCR test is currently the best widely available way to test for a COVID infection.

Follow-up gene sequencing can help to determine the COVID variant.

The Omicron variant is spreading rapidly around the world.

In some part of the U.S. it now accounts for 15 percent of all cases of COVID.

It is thought to spread at least twice as fast as the Delta variant.