The omicron variant of the coronavirus appears to cause less damage to the lungs, suggesting that the variant is different than previous COVID-19 strains.

A series of new studies that used mice and hamsters found that the omicron variant limited its infectiousness to the upper airways, according to WebMD.

  • That includes the nose, throat and windpipe.
  • Previous COVID-19 variants centered around the lungs and breathing issues, which led to COVID-19 symptoms such as shortness of breath.

Roland Eils, a computational biologist at the Berlin Institute of Health, said this shows a sign of what’s happening with the omicron variant.

  • “It’s fair to say that the idea of a disease that manifests itself primarily in the upper respiratory system is emerging,” he said, per The New York Times.
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In December, a lab study on the omicron variant found that the variant spreads faster than the delta variant. Specifically, the variant “multiplies 70 times faster than the delta variant and original SARS-CoV-2 in the human bronchus, which may explain why omicron may transmit faster between humans than previous variants,” according to the study.

  • This is why the omicron variant causes fewer infections to the lung.
  • The bronchus is considered the two large tubes that bring air from your windpipe to your lungs, which is why the omicron variant may be more centralized in your throat, according to the Cleveland Clinic.