In this Friday (24) edition of the Medical Correspondent chart, of the New Day, cardiologist Stephanie Rizk explains what we know so far about Ômicron’s behavior. The new variant of coronavirus is more transmissible but appears to be less severe.
According to a study by Imperial College, the risk of hospitalization for the Ômicron variant of the coronavirus is 40% lower than for the Delta variant. The probability of the patient seeking hospital care also drops 15%.
In Dr. Rizk’s assessment, there are two plausible explanations for this behavior. The first is advanced stage immunization, as most patients who contract the virus are already vaccinated.
Another possible explanation appears in preliminary data from an ongoing study at the University of Hong Kong, which suggests that Ômicron replicates 70 times more often in the airways, but 20 times less in the lungs. That is, transmission would be higher, but the chance of pulmonary involvement would be lower.
“That’s why the symptoms would also be a little different” explains the doctor. “It affects the airway more, causing a runny nose, headache, sore throat. Patient complaints are changing a little bit.”
However, even with lower chances of progressing to a serious condition, this does not necessarily mean that hospitalizations will decrease in number. “If we imagine that more people will get the variant, even if the percentage of admissions is lower, there will still be many hospitalized people.”
By attacking the airways more, the symptoms also become more confused with those of the flu. The increase in the number of flu cases across the country, mostly caused by the H3N2 variant of the Influenza virus, has also added to this confusion.
“What we know is that, generally, the flu virus worsens faster, the patient is in bed overnight. The Covid-19 virus tends to evolve more slowly”, she explains, “but when the patient arrives at the emergency room, he has no way of knowing, he has to be tested for both.”
According to the doctor, we can expect greater slack in the health system. Before, patients went to Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and the hospital stay was prolonged, with Ômicron fewer patients should reach this point.
“Even so, we have to prepare, because even if there is no capacity for beds, we must still have a capacity in the emergency room”, Rizk adds.
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Reference: CNN Brasil