Omicron Symptoms: The Warning Signs To Look Out For

Do Omicron symptoms look like a common cold?

Do Omicron symptoms look like a common cold?

During winter time, viruses circulate more easily and due to lack of sunlight our immune system can be affected negatively, therefore, we are more likely to catch a cold.

COVID and other respiratory infections like influenza are rapidly transmitted between people.

Infected people with symptoms or without can spread the virus.

COVID is more contagious than flu viruses and some of its variants, such as Omicron, spread through people even more quickly.

Omicron is the latest strain of COVID, but due to its cold-like symptoms, it is harder to distinguish from a heavy cold.

The warning signs associated with Omicron to look out for are:

  • Mild or severe fatigue
  • Scratchy throat
  • Dry cough
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Muscle aches

PCR tests for COVID can detect the SARS-COV-2 virus, but genome sequencing will flag which variant a person is infected with.

The limited data on Omicron suggests that this specific strain is quite different with other COVID variants.

Omicron shares many similar symptoms with a common cold while classical COVID symptoms including loss of taste or smell, fever, and continuous cough are less likely.

According to the ZOE COVID Symptom study, the top five signs for Omicron infection include fatigue, runny nose, sneezing, headache, and sore throat.

Despite that, the UK government still lists loss of sense of smell or taste, cough, and fever, which are the common symptoms of the other COVID variants.

Professor Tim Spector, the lead scientist of this report, said the symptoms should have been updated earlier:

“The messaging from the government is just not clear on this.

I think most people know what cold-like symptoms are.

I would probably just add [to the list]: ‘Have you got cold-like symptoms?’

We need to educate people, go back to the basics, and say that if you’ve got cold-like symptoms keep away from people.

You shouldn’t be waiting for the three classic symptoms.”

Professor Spector emphasises that the public needs to be informed about what symptoms to watch out for, especially in cities like London where the Omicron infection rate is very high.

“If you do have symptoms of a mild or bad cold, it’s highly likely that you’ve got COVID if you’re in an area like London at the moment.”

A study by Zhang et al., on Omicron suggests that people vaccinated against COVID and those previously infected will have  a stronger defence against this new variant.

The study was published in the journal Emerging Microbes & Infections (Zhang et al., 2021).

COVID: An Antidepressant Reduces Hospitalisation Risk 32% (M)

The study found that the antidepressant reduced the risk of hospitalisation or emergency care by almost one-third.

The study found that the antidepressant reduced the risk of hospitalisation or emergency care by almost one-third.

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2 Simple Ways To Halve COVID Risk

Two risk factors for getting COVID that you can control.

Two risk factors for getting COVID that you can control.

Getting sufficient sleep and avoiding workplace burnout can significantly decrease the risk of getting COVID.

New research has found that both sleep problems and job burnout are linked to a higher risk of catching COVID.

People feeling burnt out and experiencing poor sleep are also more likely to get severe COVID and for the disease to last longer.

The conclusions come from a study of almost 3,000 frontline healthcare workers in the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

The study’s authors write:

“We found that lack of sleep at night, severe sleep problems and high level of burnout may be risk factors for COVID-19 in frontline [healthcare workers].

Our results highlight the importance of healthcare professionals’ well-being during the pandemic.”

For each extra hour that people spend in bed, their odds of being infected with COVID were reduced 12 percent.

People in the study were asked if they had typical sleep problems, such as difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep or needing sleeping pills.

People with three or more sleep problems were at a 88 percent higher risk of developing COVID.


Similarly, feeling burnt out on a daily basis more than doubled the odds that someone would develop COVID.

The three signs of burnout are:

  1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion,
  2. increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job,
  3. and reduced professional efficacy.

Burnout tripled the odds that those that caught COVID would experience severe symptoms.

Although the study did not probe the reason for the link between poor sleep, burnout and COVID, the authors write:

“The mechanism underlying these associations remains unclear, but it has been hypothesized that lack of sleep and sleep disorders may adversely influence the immune system by increasing proinflammatory cytokines and histamines.”

Dr Minha Rajput-Ray, commenting on the study, said:

“Disruptions to the sleep-wake cycle can affect metabolic, immune and even psychological health.

And sleep deprivation can make calorie dense foods, higher in fat, sugar and salt, more appealing, particularly during times of stress and/or difficult shift patterns, all of which takes a toll on overall health and wellbeing.”

→ Read on: the mental techniques that boost your immune system and how to boost your immune response to the COVID vaccine.

The study was published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health (Kim et al., 2021).

One Blood Type May Protect Against COVID Infection

People with this blood type are less vulnerable to coronavirus infection.

People with this blood type are less vulnerable to coronavirus infection.

Human ABO blood groups could possibly have some effect on susceptibility to COVID-19 and its severity.

Studies suggest that while people with blood types A and AB may be more likely to develop severe COVID, individuals with blood type O are less likely to contract an infection.

Those with blood type O appear to be less vulnerable to the virus and so they have the lowest risk of developing serious illness, followed by hospitalization and death.

While the coronavirus pandemic goes on, scientists are trying to determine the risk factors and find ways to minimize them.

Blood type appears to be a potential risk factor associated with COVID and the severity of the illness in infected patients.

A Danish study compared data from nearly half a million people tested for COVID with more than two million non-tested individuals (control group).

The research team found that more people with A, AB, and B blood types tested positive for coronavirus but fewer people with blood type O tested positive.

The scientific evidence suggests that blood type O has the ability to protect its owner from coronavirus infection.

Blood group O has no antigens but contains anti-A and anti-B antibodies that are able to neutralize the virus when entering human cells.

Dr Torben Barington, the study’s senior author, said:

“It is very important to consider the proper control group because blood type prevalence may vary considerably in different ethnic groups and different countries.

We have the advantage of a strong control group — Denmark is a small, ethnically homogenous country with a public health system and a central registry for lab data — so our control is population-based, giving our findings a strong foundation.”

Another study collected data on 95 severely ill patients hospitalized with COVID.

They found that mechanical ventilation was needed for a high number of COVID patients with blood group A or AB compared to blood groups O or B patients.

Overall, critically ill COVID patients with blood group A or AB were more likely to face lung injury, liver dysfunction, kidney  failure, and have extended treatment in the intensive care unit (ICU).

According to a study by Dr Sean Stowell and colleagues, people with blood type A are more likely to test positive for the novel coronavirus.

This is because the coronavirus prefers blood group A antigens that are on the respiratory cells.

The studies were published in the journal Blood Advances (Hoiland et al., 2020 & Barnkob et al., 2020).

COVID: Only One-Quarter Experience Systemic Vaccine Side-Effects

The systemic and local side-effects of Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID vaccines.

The systemic and local side-effects of Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID vaccines.

One-quarter of people who receive either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer COVID vaccines experience systemic effects.

Headache, fatigue, tenderness and pain around the injection site are the most common systemic and local effects but they were mild and do not last long, a UK real-world study found.

Systemic effects are adverse reactions affecting the whole body except for the site of contact: these include fatigue, headache, joint pain, myalgia, fever, chills and shiver, nausea, and diarrhoea.

Local effects are those adverse reactions that occur at the site of injection which include tenderness, swelling, pain in the arm, itch, warmth, redness, and swollen lymph nodes in the armpit.

Allergic skin reactions were also reported by some people across both types of vaccine, including red welts on face and the lips, rashes, and skin burning.

Most side-effects were minor in severity occurring during the first 24 hours after vaccination and often lasting up to 2 days.

The data was gathered from 627,383 users of the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app in the UK.

In addition, the study found that infection rates dropped by 58 percent 12 days after the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine but for AstraZeneca it was a 39 percent.

The reduction in infection rates at 21–44 days after the first injection for Pfizer was 69 percent and for AstraZeneca 60 percent.

Here is a brief summary of the outcomes:

  • 25.4 percent of participants experienced one or more systemic adverse effects and 66.2 percent had one or more local adverse effect.
  • 22.8 percent of people suffered from headaches after the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine while 7.8 percent of people after the first Pfizer jab and 13.2 percent after the second Pfizer dose reported headaches.
  • 21.1 percent of people experienced fatigue while 8.4 percent of people had fatigue after the first Pfizer jab and 14.4 percent after the second dose of Pfizer.
  • Tenderness was the most common local effect: 49.3 percent after the first dose of AstraZeneca, 57.2 percent after the first Pfizer jab and 50.2 percent after the second dose of Pfizer.

It appears that side-effects were more common among women and people who were 55-years-old or younger.

People with a previous COVID infection were 3 times more likely to suffer from vaccine related side-effects.

Professor Tim Spector, the study’s senior author, said:

“The data should reassure many people that in the real world, after effects of the vaccine are usually mild and short-lived, especially in the over 50’s who are most at risk of the infection.

Rates of new disease are at a new low in the UK according to the ZOE app, due to a combination of social measures and vaccination and we need to continue this successful strategy to cover the remaining population.

The results also show up to 70% protection after 3 weeks following a single dose, which is fantastic news for the country, especially as more people have now had their second jabs.”

The study was published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases (Menni et al., 2021).

The Behaviour Linked To Severe COVID

This behaviour is one of the biggest risk factors for COVID-19 severity and death.

This behaviour is one of the biggest risk factors for COVID-19 severity and death.

People who live a sedentary lifestyle which involves little or no physical activity are more likely to develop severe COVID-19 infection and die from the illness.

According to a large US study, COVID patients who had a sedentary lifestyle during the 2 years before the pandemic were at a higher risk of hospitalisation, admission to intensive care units (ICUs), and death than those who had some physical activity.

In fact, physical inactivity was the third biggest risk factor for severe disease after being old and having had an organ transplant.

Pervious research has suggested that the risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19 increases with age, sex (being a male), obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

Despite the fact that being sedentary is associated with many chronic health conditions, none of these studies identified physical inactivity as a risk factor for severe COVID outcomes.

This study tracked 48,440 obese COVID patients to see whether physical inactivity has any effect on severity of coronavirus disease.

Activity levels were categorised into:

  • consistently meeting physical activity guidelines (150 minutes or more per week),
  • some activity (11 to 149 minutes per week),
  • and consistently inactive (zero to 10 minutes per week).

Data analysis showed a strong link between consistently meeting physical activity guidelines and lower risk of severe outcomes from COVID.

Consistently inactive COVID patients were at twice the risk of hospitalisation than those who were active for 150 minutes or more per week.

Moreover, inactive patients were 73 percent more likely to be taken to the ICU and 2.5 times more likely to die of the infection.

Compared to those who were doing some physical activity, the consistently inactive group had a 20 percent higher risk of hospitalisation, 20 percent higher risk of ICU admission, and 32 percent higher risk of death.

The authors remarked:

“It is notable that being consistently inactive was a stronger risk factor for severe COVID-19 outcomes than any of the underlying medical conditions and risk factors identified by [The Centers for Disease Control] except for age and a history of organ transplant.

In fact, physical inactivity was the strongest risk factor across all outcomes, compared with the commonly cited modifiable risk factors, including smoking, obesity, diabetes, hypertension [high blood pressure], cardiovascular disease and cancer.”

They added:

“Engaging in regular [physical activity] may be the single most important action individuals can take to prevent severe COVID-19 and its complications, including death.

This message is especially important given the increased barriers to achieving regular [physical activity] during lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions.”

The study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (Sallis et al., 2021).

The Blood Sugar Level That Quadruples COVID Death Risk

High blood sugar puts COVID patients at high risk of needing a ventilator or admission to an intensive care unit.

High blood sugar puts COVID patients at high risk of needing a ventilator or admission to an intensive care unit.

COVID patients with high blood sugar, whether they have diabetes or not, suffer worse outcomes and increased risk of death.

Hyperglycemia or high blood glucose is a condition that happens when not enough insulin is produced or used by the body.

However, stress, certain medications, illness, lack of exercise, and excessive eating can lead to this condition.

A study examined the effect of hyperglycemia in coronavirus patients and found that these patients experienced worse health problems, no matter if they were diabetics or not.

Patients hospitalised for COVID who had high blood sugar were more likely to be put on a ventilator or admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), develop an acute kidney injury (AKI), and die in hospital.

Dr Samara Skwiersky, the study’s lead author, said:

“COVID-19 patients presenting to the hospital with hyperglycemia require closer observation, as they are likely to require more aggressive therapies.”

The research team looked into undesirable COVID outcomes in 708 adults by measuring their blood glucose levels.

Hospitalisation of a patient with diabetes is recommended when the blood glucose values are between 140 and 180 mg/dL.

The study found that diabetes patients with a blood glucose value of over 140 mg/dL were 2.4 times more likely to need a breathing machine and be admitted to ICU.

The undesirable COVID outcomes got worse in diabetic patients with blood glucose levels of over 180 mg/dL as they were twice as likely to die in hospital.

However, patients who were not diabetics, but had a blood glucose level of over 140 mg/dL, were twice as likely to die of COVID.

Also, the odds of intubation and developing AKI were increased by 2.3 times and the risk of ending up in ICU was 3.5 times higher for these patients.

The odds of intubation and ICU admission was almost tripled and death risk was quadruple for those without diabetes but with a blood glucose level of over 180 mg/dL.

Dr Skwiersky said:

“The results from our study, reiterate the importance of regularly monitoring blood glucose in patients hospitalized with COVID-19, even without a prior diagnosis of diabetes.”

She added:

“More frequent glucose monitoring and treatment with insulin therapy to a target glucose value less than 140 mg/dL could improve outcomes in these patients.”

The study was presented at ENDO 2021, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting.

The Blood Type Linked To Severe COVID Infection

Are people with one particular blood type more at risk of COVID infection?

Are people with one particular blood type more at risk of COVID infection?

Previous studies have been found that people with O-type blood are at lower risk from coronavirus, while others with blood type A or AB are more susceptible to infection.

However, new research finds no link between blood type and catching the disease or getting seriously ill.

The study included 107,796 people tested for COVID, of which more than 11,000 tested positive.

They compared the blood type of COVID patients with those who tested negative, were hospitalized or non-hospitalized, and those who were in intensive care unit (ICU) with non-ICU patients.

The review found no relationship between ABO blood groups and contracting coronavirus disease.

Also there was no link between blood type and a reduced or increased risk of COVID-19 severity.

The authors wrote:

“The smaller sample sizes and retrospective, observational nature of many prior studies, in addition to their striking heterogeneity of ABO associations with disease susceptibility and severity, could be due to chance variations, publication bias, differences in genetic background, geography and environment, and viral strains.”

They added:

Given the large and prospective nature of our study and its strongly null results, we believe that important associations of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 with ABO groups are unlikely and will not be useful factors associated with disease susceptibility or severity on either an individual or population level for similar environments and ancestries.”

However, a recent Danish study, which is larger, compared data from nearly half a million people tested for COVID with more than two million non-tested individuals (the control group).

The results suggest that those with blood type O are less vulnerable to the virus and so they have the lowest risk of developing serious illness.

This is because blood group O has no antigens but contains anti-A and anti-B antibodies that are able to neutralize the virus when entering human cells.

Another study analysed the blood group antigens on respiratory and red blood cells and found that SARS-CoV-2 is highly attracted to the blood type A antigen expressed in the respiratory tract.

The study was published in JAMA Network Open (Anderson et al., 2021).

The Virus That Protects Against COVID

A common virus that blocks the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and reduces COVID-19 disease severity.

A common virus that blocks the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and reduces COVID-19 disease severity.

The virus that causes the common cold has the ability to give people some protection against coronavirus infection.

Rhinovirus is a mild viral infection responsible for the common cold in humans.

According to a new study, the virus can stimulate an innate immune response against SARS-CoV-2, stopping the virus from replicating in the respiratory tract.

An innate or natural immunity is the first line of defence against any infection invading our body.

Respiratory viruses such as rhinovirus often infect cells in the respiratory tract whereas other type of viruses can only infect some of the cell types in the human body.

The interaction between different viruses may change the epidemiology of respiratory infections so as the prevalence of rhinoviruses increases, the number of new COVID cases will go down.

Rhinoviruses are responsible for more than 50 percent of respiratory tract infections, therefore the rhinoviruses’ interactions with other respiratory viruses influences the severity and type of infections in people.

This virus-to-virus interaction may also influence patterns of infection and how they circulate and infect different people.

As well as the respiratory tract, virus-to-virus interactions can happen in multi-virus environments such as the gastrointestinal tract.

For this study, samples of human respiratory cells were infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the lab.

The team created a similar environment to the human body where infections occur.

Then they examined the replication SARS-CoV-2 in these cells in the absence or presence of rhinovirus.

Professor Pablo Murcia, the study’s co-author, said:

“Our research shows that human rhinovirus triggers an innate immune response in human respiratory epithelial cells which blocks the replication of the COVID-19 virus, SARS-CoV-2.

This means that the immune response caused by mild, common cold virus infections, could provide some level of transient protection against SARS-CoV-2, potentially blocking transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and reducing the severity of COVID-19.

The next stage will be to study what is happening at the molecular level during these virus-virus interactions, to understand more about their impact on disease transmission.

We can then use this knowledge to our advantage, hopefully developing strategies and control measures for COVID-19 infections.

In the meantime, vaccination is our best method of protection against COVID-19.”

The study was published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases (Dee et al., 2021).

The Blood Markers Linked To Severe COVID Infection

An early clue of who is more likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19.

An early clue of who is more likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19.

Blood tests of COVID patients when they arrive in emergency rooms can give doctors important clues if the patient will recover quickly or will be taken to intensive care.

Certain biomarkers related to the activation of white blood cells, if found in a patient’s blood sample, can predict worse outcomes from COVID, a study reveals.

Dr Hyung Chun, study co-author, said:

“Patients with high levels of these markers were much more like to require care in the intensive care unit, require ventilation, or die due to their COVID-19.”

Patients with COVID have elevated levels of some proteins in the blood such as D-dimer and cytokines.

These markers are part of the inflammatory response.

Until now, no biomarkers have been identified to predict which patients will get very sick from the coronavirus.

The study identified five proteins known as HGF, lipocalin-2, G-CSF, resistin, and IL-8 in the patients’ blood samples.

These proteins are linked to neutrophils that are the most abundant type of white blood cell that defends the body against infection and inflammation.

The team found that patients with coronavirus who later became severely ill, have high levels of these proteins in their blood.

Previously the link between these proteins and obesity has been established but not for viral illnesses including coronavirus disease.

Dr Alfred Lee, study co-author, said:

“This is one of the first demonstrations that a set of biomarkers in the blood of COVID patients can predict eventual ICU admission, even before such patients become critically ill.”

The authors emphasised that detecting these indicators at the early stage of infection will help patients and enhance treatment.

Dr Chun said:

“If a diagnostic test [for these biomarkers] could be ordered early, it could give us a better sense of who is more likely to become critically ill and will benefit from a higher level of care and consideration for therapies that affect the immune system early on in their hospitalization.

Many of these drugs do carry potential side effects, and these tests may help identify those patients who would benefit the most.”

The link between obesity and COVID has already been established as obese people are at higher risk for getting seriously ill, being hospitalised, and dying from the infection.

Dr Lee said:

“Neutrophils are inflammatory cells so it makes sense that they would be elevated in the context of both obesity — which involves chronic, low-grade inflammation — and COVID-19, which causes hyperinflammation in the most severe cases, leading to tissue damage and organ failure.

There are also signs that neutrophils might participate in thrombosis or blood clotting.”

The study was published in the journal Blood Advances (Meizlish et al., 2021).