The omicron variant is still new enough that doctors are still using anecdotal data to explain what’s happening to COVID-19 patients. And, in many cases, doctors and health officials are seeing different omicron variant symptoms in various patients.

What’s happening: Multiple readers of MPR News recently asked Dr. Melanie Swift, co-chairwoman of Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution Work Group, about the omicron coronavirus variant, the COVID-19 vaccine and related topics.

  • One person asked if they were going to lose their sense of taste and smell from the omicron variant, or if that was simply a sign of the delta variant.
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Loss of taste and smell has been a symptom of all previous COVID-19 variants, Swift said. But there is still so much unknown about omicron.

  • “Interestingly — and this is still anecdotal information that we are compiling and observing — there are some different presentations that we’ve seen in omicron,” she said.
  • “One is kind of a milder cold-like syndrome, very much like earlier variants but a little bit milder and often without that loss of taste and smell that was really characteristic of COVID before omicron. Another presentation that we’re seeing is more of a gastrointestinal illness — and some of those patients actually don’t have any respiratory symptoms at all.”

The bigger picture: Indeed, stomach problems have become a common omicron variant symptom. Health officials in Alabama recently warned patients that they might experience stomach bugs and gastrointestinal symptoms after infection.

  • “With delta, the upper respiratory symptoms were very severe. It was in the lung. Patients would have pneumonia, respiratory failure and would go on a ventilator,” said Dr. Bill Admire, with Infirmary Health, according to WPMI-TV. “But with omicron, patients with gastrointestinal problems are flaring up and having more symptoms.”