The pandemic situation in Italy in these first weeks of the year it is more critical than ever. In fact, if on the one hand, fortunately, deaths and serious cases are decreasing, on the other they are registered contagions constantly increasing, endless lines for tampons, schools on their knees and government guidelines that are not always very clear.
A not very exciting picture, determined above all by the new one variante Omicron that according to the immunologist advisor to the White House pandemic, Anthony Fauci, “In the end he will find everyone.”
Much less dangerous than the previous ones, especially for the vaccinated, but highly contagious, it shows some symptoms slightly different from those we were used to and often confused with normal seasonal ailments.
With Massimo Clementi, director of the Microbiology and Virology Laboratory of the IRCCS San Raffaele Hospital, we tried to clarify one of the most common: the cold.
Let’s clear the field of doubts, is a cold a symptom of Covid-19?
«Yes, in part it has always been but it has become very present in people, vaccinated and unvaccinated, who contract the Omicron variant, which unlike the previous ones mainly affects the upper airways. At the moment it is the most widespread, so this aspect must absolutely be taken into consideration ».
If you realize you have a cold, is it possible to understand if it is a trivial seasonal illness or Covid?
“In the absence of other symptoms attributable to SARS-CoV-2 infection, unfortunately not, because the cold does not change depending on what causes it. Sometimes it manifests itself together with other clear detectors of the disease such as fever and breathing difficulties and in that case it may be easier to distinguish it but on asymptomatic people it is very difficult without specific investigations “.
If in doubt, then better do a control swab?
“I would say yes. Colds are common in winter and this can lead people without other symptoms to underestimate their presence.
Doing so, however, exposes loved ones to the risk of contagion and, especially if you live with fragile subjects, it is more than ever necessary to ascertain the origin of the cold, relying on swabs (better if molecular) and wary of much less reliable salivary tests instead ” .
Can this symptom occur indiscriminately to vaccinated and non-vaccinated people?
Why is a cold a common symptom of the Omicron variant and less than the previous ones?
«Because in the latter the virus infects the cells of the nose and pharynx more easily, the same ones where the cold develops; and with more difficulty those of the pulmonary alveoli and smaller bronchi, often affected by the other variants and which, as we have noted in the past months, often lead to pneumonia or more serious infections. Even if at times it can be more difficult to identify, there is no doubt that, in the face of a very high contagiousness, the danger of Omicron is decidedly lower ».