- Sputnik International, 1920
Omicron COVID Strain
The new COVID variant was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana and sparked major concerns due to its high number of mutations (32). The WHO dubbed the strain Omicron and warned it may prove to be more transmissible and dangerous than other coronavirus variants.

Virtually Impossible to Tell Apart Omicron and Common Cold, Swedish Professor Says

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Flu - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.12.2021
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According to Professor Anders Sönnerborg of the Karolinska Institute, while healthy people experience the recent strains of the coronavirus as virtually indistinguishable from the common cold, it is best to keep the infection down for the benefit of the frail and susceptible.
While peculiar COVID-19 symptoms, such as the loss of smell and taste, were rather distinct at the onslaught of the pandemic, they are becomingly increasingly uncommon, to the point of making the coronavirus indistinguishable from the common cold for the fully vaccinated and healthy, Swedish Professor Anders Sönnerborg, chief physician of the Karolinska Institute has noted.
According to him, the rise of novel strains such as Omicron, which coincides with the peak season for the common cold, makes trying to determine ailments on your own "completely hopeless". At the same time, the symptom picture seems to have become milder.

"It is very difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish a more severe cold and a coronavirus infection in the current situation", Sönnerborg told national broadcaster SVT.

Per Sönnerborg, first and foremost, vaccination has proven effective in counteracting serious illness. Yet, there are signs that the Omicron strain causes a milder course of disease than previous variants, although it has not yet been proven.

"In the UK, there have been tendencies toward milder symptoms even with the Delta strain during the autumn, so it is difficult to say whether there are distinct differences between the strains or it is chiefly a result of vaccination", Sönnerborg said.

The flu, by contrast, is easier to recognise, as the symptoms are usually more severe, he noted.

"You get a higher fever, a sore throat combined with a severe cough and not least muscle pain. It often differs from the others, although the symptoms naturally overlap", he stated.

According to Sönnerborg, sampling is the only safe method for determining which infection a patient has. At the same time, it is still important to consider existing risk factors.
"One should be aware that if many people get Omicron, some patients will still end up in hospital with a serious illness. Especially those who are fragile. You must not forget it so that you don't underestimate the risks", Sönnerborg said.
People queue outside the vaccination center in Oksnehallen in Copenhagen, Denmark, on April 12, 2021, during the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.12.2021
Omicron COVID Strain
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Keeping the infection down is still important, even if those who fall ill generally seem to suffer from milder symptoms than before, according to Sönnerborg.
Recent studies from South Africa, where the Omicron strain was first detected, as well as England and Scotland, where it has spread, suggest that the variant is generally associated with a lower risk of serious disease, although this picture is yet to be confirmed.
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