So far, it appears the omicron variant appears to create mild COVID-19 symptoms compared to earlier strains of the coronavirus. But the severe COVID-19 illness from omicron might be more severe than before.

Per The Economist, the omicron variant has high transmissibility, meaning it could spread farther and wider than earlier strains. The good news is, though, that the variant appears to cause less severe symptoms.

  • However, the omicron variant is so new that health officials might not have many options for treating severe cases.
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As The Economist explained, “once someone is so sick as to require hospital treatment, doctors may have fewer options available for Omicron than for its antecedents. Previous strains could often be treated with drugs called monoclonal antibodies. Omicron seems oblivious to most of these, and supplies of those that do affect it, newly developed versions made by GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology, are limited.”

  • This means the omicron variant could put a heavy strain on hospital systems across the world, according to The Economist.
  • “The infectiousness of Omicron and the consequent speed of its spread mean that hospitals around the world are wary of an onslaught of admissions happening at a time when many staff are unavailable because they, too, have been infected. All this could have an effect on care,” The Economist reports.

Indeed, a recent study from researchers at Columbia University suggests the omicron variant of COVID-19 can evade COVID-19 vaccines, antibody treatments and booster shots, making the virus more transmissible, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

  • The variant has been known to avoid natural antibodies from previous COVID-19 infections and make monoclonal antibody cocktails less effective, too.

Still, the omicron variant has led to less severe COVID-19 symptoms and hospitalizations among the fully vaccinated. The unvaccinated population may face major risks from the omicron variant this winter.