For more than two years, the Covid-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill as the virus spread across the globe.
While lockouts and levels may seem like a distant memory now, the virus is still with us.
Cases have started to rise again with warnings that Covid will again put pressure on the NHS this winter.
The last major outbreak of the pandemic, when restrictions were still in place, was thanks to Omicron. The variant spread rapidly around the world after it was discovered in southern Africa last November, and a number of sub-variants have since been produced.
Omicron proved less serious but more transmissible than its predecessors Alpha and Delta, with the total daily number of cases in England soaring to a then-pandemic peak of 218,724 on January 4, before gradually declining, except for a resurgence inspired by its first sub-variant, BA.2, in March.
Since then, only people over the age of 75 have been offered repeated shots of the booster, which means immunity can start to wane and push calls for a new booster to be offered wider.
Approval of the new Moderna Omicron specific injection is a welcome development for the UK in this regard, and the vaccine may eventually play a significant role in any further vaccine campaigns.
Different strains, different exposure
What health officials had to learn on the fly when this variant first emerged last winter was how it differed from the original Covid strain.
While World Health Organization According to estimates, it took two days to two weeks for people infected with the first strain of the coronavirus to show symptoms, but Omicron was found to incubate much faster, closer to three to five days.
“Recent analysis by the UK Health Agency suggests that the window between infection and infectivity may be shorter for the Omicron variant than for the Delta variant,” the UK health secretary said at the time. Sajid Javid told the House of Commons on December 6, 2021.
This explained why the strain was able to spread so quickly and successfully, as its short incubation period gave victims a shorter time between suspecting the virus and becoming acute, making it less likely that a positive lateral flow test result would be recorded in time to warn others, go to isolation and prevent transmission of infection.
The shorter incubation period “makes the virus much, much, much harder to control,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Health Center. observed Art Atlantic in the same month.
Another characteristic of Omicron that made it potentially harder to detect than earlier strains was that its symptoms were somewhat different from the three main indicators we should be looking out for in 2020: cough, fever and loss of consciousness taste or smell.
Symptoms to look out for
Early warning signs of the new variant, by contrast, included a scratchy throat, lower back pain, runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and fatigue, sneezing and night sweats.
Cases Omicron analyzed in Britain showed that patients usually recovered in an average of five days to a week, although some symptoms, such as cough and fatigue, were likely to last longer.
The shortness of breath experienced by some patients often lasts for 13 days after other symptoms have resolved.
Covid patients are thought to be contagious to others for about two days before they first show symptoms and for about 10 days afterwards.
If you think you have symptoms related to the coronavirus, then current NHS advice – take a lateral flow test and isolate at home for five days if you get a positive result to avoid passing it on to others (you must stay away from those who may be particularly vulnerable due to their age or existing illness for 10 days) .
If you do have to go out in public, it’s recommended to wear a face mask, avoid crowded places, and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
If you are concerned about your symptoms or think they are getting worse, you are encouraged to visit 111.nhs.ukcall 111 or call your GP.