OPINION: This article contains commentary which may reflect the author's opinion
One new symptom that is not typically associated with earlier strains of COVID-19 is being reported as the omicron variant spreads throughout the United States.
According to reports, those with the omicron variant are more likely to experience night sweats.
According to Dr. John Torres, senior medical correspondent for NBC News, other symptoms of omicron are often overlapping with that of a cold or flu (such as coughing, fatigue, congestion, and a runny nose), however, night sweats are something that is new.
“But people are reporting night sweats, which is a very strange symptom that they say they’re having,” Torres said.
Even though the loss of taste or smell still indicates COVID-19, the omicron variant does not seem to cause this like the first strain did.
Most of the time, night sweats are caused by other problems such as the flu, anxiety or even cancer, according to one report.
Due to the spread of the omicron strain, there has been an overall increase in COVID cases in the United States and throughout the globe.
According to reports, the United States hit 1 million daily COVID cases on Monday, with Washington, D.C., and Florida experiencing the highest spikes.
Another report suggests that there are 1.8 million cases a day worldwide due to omicron.
Although cases are increasing, omicron does not seem to be as severe as other strains. Researchers continue to look into the effects of the variant, but South Africa’s data indicates that it might not be as dangerous as originally thought, according to yet another report.
“In South Africa, this is the epidemiology: Omicron is behaving in a way that is less severe,” according to Dr. Cheryl Cohen of South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
Several studies have also shown that omicron is less likely to spread to the lungs.
Omicron impacted the nose, throat, and windpipe in a study run on mice and hamsters, but not as great on the lungs.
“The variant did much less harm to the lungs, where previous variants would often cause scarring and serious breathing difficulty,” according to one report.
Researchers in Denmark say that Omicron will be the end of the pandemic and that we should be back to normal life in a few months.
Denmark’s chief epidemiologist, Tyra Grove Krause, spoke with Danish TV 2 in an interview and said that a study from Denmark’s State Serum Institute where she works shows that the risk of ending up in the hospital from Omicron is half that of the Delta variant.
Because of that, Krause said ‘we will have our normal lives back in two months.’
The leading epidemiologist went on to say that ‘I think we will have that in the next two months, and then I hope the infection will start to subside and we get our normal lives back.’
Krause’s peer, Viggo Andreasen, an associate professor and mathematical epidemiologist at Denmark’s Department of Science and the Environment, agrees with her and says that Omicron will become “something more reminiscent of a cold.” Andreasen made the statement in an interview with Danish TV 2 after Krause’s.
Krause said that Omicron could actually end the pandemic despite early fears that it was prolonging the pandemic due to an increased level of infection.
The study states that: ‘Omicron is here to stay, and it will provide some massive spread of infection in the coming month. When it’s over, we’re in a better place than we were before.’
Yet, the expert said that, despite the soaring infection rates in countries with the Omicron variant, the disease appears milder than the Delta variant, and therefore more people will be infected without displaying symptoms.
Consequently, this would provide the population with a high level of immunity.
Danish cases of the infection have spiked in recent weeks, and on Sunday registered an average of 20,886 infections across the previous week, which is one of Europe’s highest rates of 3,592.74 per million people.
Despite this, Ms Krause emphasized that there was still work to be done in the months to come to beat the pandemic.
‘Omicron will peak at the end of January, and in February we will see declining infection pressure and a decreasing pressure on the health care system,’ warned Krause.
‘But we have to make an effort in January, because it will be hard to get through.’
Krause said that Danes should follow long-established measures to slow the spread, including keeping a low profile, staying at home when symptoms appear, and practicing good hygiene.
Omicron’s spreading influence will continue to exert pressure on Denmark’s health care system, she said. ‘This is definitely what will be the challenge in the future.’
Andreasen is optimistic about Omicron ending the pandemic but puts the peak in February, not January. He said the reason for this is about half the population needs to be infected for the peak to come down. ‘And that is probably what you should expect to have to do before the epidemic starts to fall again,’ he said.
An equally positive announcement came three days earlier from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization.
According to him, if we end the world’s inequality in vaccines by 2022, we will be able to stop the pandemic. It is still necessary to vaccinate large portions of non-western countries.
Jens Lundgren, a professor of infectious diseases at Rigshospitalet, the largest hospital in Denmark, says that with Omicron, we will see society normalizing in a few months, also. Agreeing with Krause’s prediction of the peak, he told Danish TV 2, ‘It will probably peak sometime during January and then phase out of society again. That is the expectation when we are dealing with a very contagious virus.’
Lundgren went on to say that, ‘overall, Omikron is less pathogenic.’