Omicron’s shorter incubation period creates new challenges for the medical community


RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – We already know that omicron is much more contagious than the delta variant and the original form of COVID-19. But it is becoming increasingly clear why this is true.

The incubation period, the time between infection and the onset of symptoms, is much shorter than the five to seven days that we are used to seeing.

“With the omicron variant, it appears to be about three days with fairly short intervals, meaning that anyone who becomes symptomatic will become symptomatic within four days,” said Dr. David Weber of the ‘UNC Health.

While you can find out sooner if you’ve been infected, it also means you’re contagious a day or two after infection.

It also creates another challenge for the medical community. This only gives them about 24 hours to let someone know they’ve also been exposed before that person infects someone else.

“If I have symptoms today, I have to get tested, collect my test result and have it informed to the public health department and they have to inform people the same day, otherwise you are already past the time the group secondary could have already been exposed.

“It’s going to really cripple our exposure assessments, calling people to let them know about our exhibits,” Weber said.

Why is the incubation period shorter for the omicron?

Weber said the answer is not entirely clear.

But, a study showed that omicron grows much faster in the upper respiratory tract.

However, it has also been shown to not grow as well in the lower respiratory tract.

“Which may explain why one of the good news about omicron seems to be less likely than the delta variant to cause serious disease,” Weber said.

Weber said those who are already vaccinated show a higher level of protection with a booster.

This does not mean that if you are vaccinated and have symptoms, however, you should not get tested.

“If you have symptoms suggestive of COVID (fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of smell and taste, sore throat) you should stay home and call your health care provider and get tested for COVID. “Weber said.


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