Don’t let your guard down even with ‘mild’ omicron variant, experts say

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — There is a lot of misinformation circulating about COVID-19, you might have heard something from friends or family or even seen something that isn’t true on social media, but at the end of the day, medical experts are still your best source for information.

“We are still learning about this virus,” said Dr. Lizbeth Cahuayme, an infectious disease expert with Baylor Scott and White Health. “Right now we are seeing more community spread, we are seeing more cases, more hospitalizations.”

Some people have described the omicron variant illness as “mild,” but Cahuayme says that is no reason to let your guard down.

Omicron can still cause severe disease, hospitalization and even death. Cahuayme said even if you have mild symptoms, they can persist for months and affect multiple organs, resulting in what doctors refer to as “long COVID.”

“The report that we are getting and what some studies suggest is that the virus may replicate less in the lungs,” Cahuayme said. “Maybe the virus is replicating more in the upper airway which could also contribute to it being more transmissible.”

Cahuayme said early reports show omicron is three times more transmissible than delta and the virus is still mutating.

“Specifically for omicron, what we are finding is that there are more mutations in the spike proteins which is a key area that helps the virus attach to the cells of a human,” Cahuayme said.

If you are vaccinated and boosted, you reduce your chances of getting severely ill with COVID-19, but you can still get the virus.

Scientists are seeing signals that COVID-19′s alarming omicron wave may have peaked in Britain and is about to do the same in the U.S., at which point cases may start dropping off dramatically.

The reason? The variant has proved so wildly contagious that it may already be running out of people to infect, just a month and a half after it was first detected in South Africa.

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