Why Omicron Variants Should Not Be Compared to The Common Cold

Veronica Charnell Media

Photo Courtesy of Edwin Hooper/UnsplashEdwin Hooper

Omicron Variants Vs. Common Cold

I know many of you are thinking here we go again with another COVID-19 Variant. The Omicron Variant had medical researchers working longer hours to learn more about this variant. While the world is slowly returning to normal the Omicron variant showed signs it can spread much faster than the Delta Variant. Now everyone is wondering if Masks Mandates in public areas will become something permanent.

I have been reading hundreds of comments from the general public calling this highly contagious variant a cold. According to the CDC, “ Viruses constantly change through mutation, and sometimes these mutations result in a new variant of the virus. Some variants emerge and disappear while others persist. New variants will continue to emerge.”

A Biosecurity Expert warned, “ Covid-19 will never become an endemic illness and will always behave like an epidemic virus.”

Now there is a new member of the COVID-19 Variant Family. New variant Omicron BA.2 appears to be more transmissible than previous variants, there is no data yet to suggest that it is any more severe. So my question is should we view the COVID-19 Variants as the common cold?

I had the opportunity to speak with Certified Medical Professionals about how we should view different COVID-19 Variants.

Caitlin Stowe, MPH, CPH, CIC, CPHQ, VA-BC. Stowe is vice president of clinical affairs and medical liaison for ActivePure Medical.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic now entering the third year, and vaccines and treatments available to almost everyone, many of us have forgotten how serious the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be. However, it’s important to remember how serious and potentially deadly a COVID-19 infection can become. The media has begun to downplay the latest variant, Omicron, by comparing it to the common cold, but this is an extremely misleading and potentially very dangerous mistake. The common cold accounts for millions of cases per year, with adults having an average of two-three colds per year but leads to very few hospitalizations and deaths.

Compare this to Influenza, which historically has been the major respiratory cause of hospitalizations, which had an estimated 35 million infections, 380,000 hospitalizations, and 20,000 deaths for the 2019-2020 flu season2. Now, compare those numbers to what we have seen with COVID-19, 60 million reported infections and 840,000 deaths in just 22 months3. While most persons that develop COVID-19 have very mild symptoms, a proportion of symptomatic persons are hospitalized. While this may not seem like a large number, these sometimes-preventable hospitalizations are further straining our already overwhelmed healthcare system. Continued vigilance in adhering to protective measures is still the best way to prevent COVID-19. This includes social distancing, strict handwashing hygiene, masking, vaccination, and proper air purification and/or disinfection. Vaccination is the best way to not only protect yourself against severe illness or mortality associated with COVID-19. Vaccination is also a key strategy in helping end the pandemic as well as prevent future variants, through decreasing person-to-person transmission. We are all ready for this pandemic to end, but until then, make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself.”

Photo Courtesy of Nick Fewings/UnsplashNick Fewings

Dr. Eva Gamallo licensed M.D. and consultant for Sensible Digs. “The modern era of digitalization has paved the way to the rise of misinformation leading to this new pandemic called "infodemic". A simple click can lead to a variety of information spreading like wildfire that can be misleading and erroneous at times.

There are numerous posts on social media stating that Omicron is just a common cold, sparking much debate amongst people. But what people should remember is that numerous viruses cause disease, one being the rhinovirus causing the common cold and the SARS-CoV2 virus causing COVID-19 infections. These two viruses are not the same.

The common symptoms of runny nose, congestion, cough, and fatigue brought about by the Omicron variant typically overlaps with the symptoms caused by the common cold due to the rhinovirus. It is also important to remember that there is a propensity for people infected with the Omicron variant to succumb to severe infections (warranting hospitalizations) compared to those suffering from the common cold, who typically just have self-limited symptoms.”

Greg Marchand MD, FACOG, FACS

Board Certified Physician / COVID ResearcherAccredited Master Surgeon/Board Certified in MIGS. Board Certified OBGYN. Founder, Marchand Institute

“The Omicron variant of the Coronavirus is a cold, but very different from the common cold. The common cold (also a different kind of coronavirus) is, as the name suggests, common. That means many people will have resistance and immunity to it. A "novel" virus has an uncommon method of infecting cells, making it less likely people in a given population are immune.”

Veronica Charnell: A common cold is a form of Coronavirus? So technically Coronavirus has always been present?

Dr. Greg Marchand: Yes, but maybe it could have been phrased better. 20% of common colds are coronaviruses, which makes it the most common along with other very common viruses like rhinoviruses and RSV. To answer your question, yes, coronaviruses have always been present. This one, covid19, is just novel in that most people didn't previously have immunity to it.

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