The omicron variant is sweeping the nation, making up over half of all COVID-19 cases in the United States. Will those who’ve never had COVID-19 experience the worst of its symptoms?

Why it matters: If you’ve somehow managed to dodge COVID-19 the past two years, it’s still possible to catch the virus, considering omicron is highly transmissible and more contagious than previous variants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • It’s important to know what symptoms may be coming your way and the best way to combat them.
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What they’re saying: While there isn’t obvious research about whether omicron symptoms are necessarily worse for COVID-19 first-timers, experts say the first COVID-19 infection is almost always worse than the second.

  • “In general, reinfections should be less severe than primary infections, as the person being reinfected will have some preexisting immunity from their primary infection,” according to Gavi, a global vaccination organization.
  • Theodora Hatziioannou, a virologist at Rockefeller University, said COVID-19 reinfections are typically pretty mild. “People don’t even realize they have gotten reinfected,” Hatziioannou said, per Healthline.
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  • Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, pointed out that some people might think they’ve never had COVID-19, but may have been asymptomatic or attributed the minimal symptoms to something else, Web MD reported.

Symptoms to look out for: The four most commonly reported omicron symptoms are:

  • Cough.
  • Fatigue.
  • Congestion.
  • Runny nose.

Dr. Justin Coby, a pharmacist and director of Cedar Care Village Pharmacy in Ohio, said sore throat and sinuses are also becoming more common among COVID-19 patients, the Deseret News reported.

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The bottom line: Check in on your personal health if you’re feeling sick and get tested if you begin experiencing these symptoms to protect yourself and others against COVID-19.

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