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Why omicron variant symptoms are more dangerous compared to previous COVID-19 strains

The omicron variant has been spreading to average people, who then spread it to vulnerable people

An illustration of the omicron variant.
The omicron variant has been spreading to average people, who then spread it to vulnerable people, medical experts say.
Illustration by Michelle Budge, Deseret News

The omicron variant of the novel coronavirus has continued to spread throughout the United States, reaching vulnerable populations who have tried to stay safe from the virus.

  • The omicron variant has caused COVID-19 symptoms that seem so much unlike previous strains.

Dr. Craig Spencer, an emergency room physician in Manhattan, described on Twitter what he’s seen so far from the omicron variant, explaining that the current COVID-19 surge from omicron is different than previous strains.

  • “Today it seemed like everyone had COVID. Like, so many. And yes, like before, there were some really short of breath and needing oxygen. But for most, COVID seemed to topple a delicate balance of an underlying illness. It’s making people really sick in a different way,” Spencer wrote.

Spencer said that COVID-19 cases are spreading within the hospitals, infecting people who have tried to stay safe from the virus.

  • “What’s also different now is those COVID cases are often in beds next to patients who’ve done everything to avoid the virus, and for whom an infection might have a dramatic toll. The cancer patient on chemotherapy. Those immunocompromised or severely sick with something else,” Spencer said.
  • “But there’s just SO much of it and it’s impacting patients in different ways. So even if just a tiny portion of cases need to stay in the hospital, it can turn into a huge influx,” Spencer tweeted.

John Bell, a professor of medicine at the University of Oxford, told BBC Radio 4 that the omicron variant is “not the same disease” as previous COVID-19 strains since it causes fewer hospitalizations and less severe symptoms so far.

  • “The incidence of severe disease and death from this disease (COVID-19) has basically not changed since we all got vaccinated and that’s really important to remember,” he told the BBC.
  • “The horrific scenes that we saw a year ago — intensive care units being full, lots of people dying prematurely — that is now history in my view and I think we should be reassured that that’s likely to continue.”