The rate at which Omicron is spreading is indeed alarming. As of the first week of January 2022, 1 million new cases are reported each day, with 95% of cases identified as the new Omicron variant. As new patients flood hospital rooms and fill up hospital beds, frontline workers have identified the common symptoms of the latest surge, a huge chunk of which is made up of Omicron.
Symptoms of Unvaccinated Individuals
In Houston’s United Memorial Medical Center, only about 50 people were admitted for severe COVID-19 symptoms in the month of December 2021 — 100% of them unvaccinated. They exhibited serious symptoms such as high fever, shortness of breath, and dehydration.
According to Dr. Joseph Varon, chief of critical care services in United Memorial Medical Center, unvaccinated individuals had a higher risk of COVID-19 affecting their lungs, leading to more serious illnesses, the most common being pneumonia. Hence, the majority of infected people needing to be hospitalized are unvaccinated.
Symptoms of Vaccinated Individuals
The symptoms of COVID-19 have always been known to include shortness of breath and severe coughing, among others. But frontline workers no longer see these serious and life-threatening symptoms on infected individuals who are vaccinated.
According to New York City’s Mount Sinai Queens emergency medicine physician, Dr. Matthew Bai, vaccinated individuals only exhibited symptoms resemblant to the common cold, such as coughs, congestion or runny nose, and fatigue.
Compared to those who have received their booster shots, vaccinated individuals who have not been boosted have experienced more coughing, higher fevers, and more fatigue. But these symptoms are not as bad as what happens in unvaccinated patients.
Symptoms of Boosted Individuals
While symptoms are, by a landslide, less severe for vaccinated patients, those who have received their booster shots are in a much better place. At most, boosted individuals who are infected with COVID-19 only had a mild sore throat, muscle pain, and fatigue.
Often, boosted individuals do not need to get hospitalized for COVID-19, according to New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center’s Director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine, Dr. Craig Spencer.
Vaccination and Boosters Have Positive Effect
As shown by the latest symptoms of COVID-19, vaccinated individuals had lower risks of severe illness after getting infected. Boosted individuals, on the other hand, had only mild symptoms and did not need to get hospitalized at all.
These trends support initial evidence that vaccinations and boosters can make a huge difference in how COVID-19 affects the body — they make it a hundred-fold less severe and less fatal.