Researchers are still trying to figure out what will happen with both the Delta and Omicron variants of COVID-19 spreading simultaneously. Now, new lab-based data are suggesting that the newer variant, Omicron, might bring one silver lining: It could help individuals who contract it defend against the prior variant, Delta. As Omicron continues to rapidly spread, accounting for the majority of new COVID cases, it’s become abundantly clear that there are some clear differences between Omicron and Delta.
1. Omicron is more transmissible than Delta
The Omicron rates have surged far faster than Delta. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimates that Omicron makes up 95% of COVID cases in this country and it is highly affecting children. Many U.S. hospitals have reached capacity and workforces have been gutted by rising COVID cases among employees
The American Academy of Pediatrics reported a stunning rise in pediatric COVID-19 cases. “COVID-19 cases among U.S. children have reached the highest case count ever reported since the start of the pandemic,” the report said.
“For the week ending December 30th, over 325,000 child COVID-19 cases were reported. This number is a 64 percent increase over the 199,000 added cases reported the week ending December 23rd and an almost doubling of case counts from the two weeks prior.”
2. Omicron infections are less severe than Delta
More than six studies have found that Omicron is milder than the Delta variant and others.
While previous variants have scarred the lungs and caused breathing difficulties in humans, several studies with mice and hamsters have found that the variant caused much milder symptoms. This included research in Syrian hamsters, which had been found to become severely ill with other variants, the Times reported.
“This was surprising, since every other variant has robustly infected these hamsters,” Dr. Michael Diamond, a virologist at Washington University and a co-author of that study, told the Times.
Scientists found that the animals infected with Omicron were less likely to