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What Is The Distinction Between The Omicron And Delta Variants

Published On May 21, 2022

With the BA.2 variant, sometimes called “stealth Omicron,” driving a surge of cases in Europe, people are eager to distinguish the symptoms of Omicron from those of other coronavirus variants, including Delta.

Most P.C.R. and rapid antigen tests can detect Omicron — the Food and Drug Administration has noted there are only a few tests that don’t — but the results do not indicate to users which variant they are infected with, leaving people to guess.

What Is The Distinction Between The Omicron And Delta Variants

Are BA.2 Symptoms Different From BA.1 Symptoms?

BA.2 appears to be more transmissible than the original version of Omicron, BA.1. But the subvariant doesn’t appear to lead to different symptoms from BA.1, said a researching doctor. “Omicron versus BA.2, there’s really no fundamental difference,” said another doctor.

Can Omicron Symptoms Be Distinguished From Delta Symptoms?

Some symptom differences have emerged from preliminary data, but experts are not certain they are meaningful. Data released in December from South Africa’s largest private health insurer, for instance, suggest that South Africans with Omicron often develop a scratchy or sore throat along with nasal congestion, a dry cough and muscle pain, especially low back pain.

One possible difference is that Omicron may be less likely than earlier variants to cause a loss of taste and smell. Research suggests that 48 percent of patients with the original SARS-CoV-2 strain reported loss of smell and 41 percent reported loss of taste, but an analysis of a small Omicron outbreak among vaccinated people found that only 23 percent of patients reported loss of taste, and only 12 percent reported loss of smell. It’s unclear, though, whether these differences are because of Omicron or some other factor, like vaccination status.

How Long Does It Take For Symptoms To Appear?

Omicron seems to have a shorter incubation time than other variants — after a person is exposed, it takes as few as three days for them to develop symptoms, become contagious and test positive compared with four to six days with Delta and the original coronavirus.


Some encouraging, emerging research shows that Omicron may cause less damage to the lungs, resulting in less severe disease than previous iterations of the virus. Early evidence from Europe also suggests Omicron may cause milder symptoms. In December, three separate research teams concluded that the variant was less likely to send patients to hospitals.

Also read - How Can Health Insurance Help In Saving On Taxes?


This article is issued in the general public interest and meant for general information purposes only. Readers are advised not to rely on the contents of the article as conclusive in nature and should research further or consult an expert in this regard.

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