Hello, I am Dr Lucas de Toca. Welcome to talk three. Today, as usual, I am speaking from Wonnarua Country, Wonnarua dowra, and I am going to be answering questions about recovering from COVID and what if I don't feel 100 percent after it. About Omicron, because it's the thing we always seem to talk about these days, since last year, and I'm also going to talk about symptoms for different variants.
The first question is whether different variants of the virus have different symptoms. It's an interesting question because our understanding of the disease has changed quite significantly over the last two years. The broad range of symptoms, fever, fatigue, sore throat, shortness of breath, running nose, have broadly remained unchanged. There's still that, sort of, group of symptoms that are very similar to cold and flu, that are still the main symptoms for COVID-19 regardless of the sort of variant. But it is true that some symptoms, like running nose, that were more uncommon in the earlier stages of the pandemic now seem to be far more common. There's a number of reasons why these might happen. The virus itself changes. It seems that only Omicron tends to affect the upper respiratory tract more than previous variants, more than Delta, that might explain why in some cases it causes a milder disease, because it stays further up as oppose to going to the lungs, and that's why people might be experiencing more runny noses than with previous variants and less shortness of breath. But ultimately, it's not just the virus itself that determines what a person experiences, At an individual level, different individuals will react quite differently to the virus and that's why a majority of people get a milder disease, some people still get very sick from it, including from Omicron, but also, at a population level, things have changed. The majority of the population are vaccinated. We are much better at detecting the presence of the virus. Where as initially we were focusing on people who presented to hospital and were very sick, and that's where our understanding was coming from, now we have a much better understanding of many more people who are infected and also the dynamics change when a large portion of the population are vaccinated. But ultimately, regardless of the variant, if you have symptoms that are similar to cold and flu, no matter how mild, please get a test and isolate until you get a negative result.
We're also going to talk about recovery. A lot of people are reporting it's been a while since they had COVID and they're still not feeling 100 percent OK. So, it's quite varied again, from person to person, what the experience is like. Generally, people who have a more severe disease take a longer time to recover, but some people who have a mild disease, might have ongoing symptoms for a while. Long COVID is a condition we are learning more and more about, month after month and it's where people have persistent symptoms of COVID, more than three months after they were infected. Again, individual risk factors are vaccination status - people who are vaccinated seem to have much less long COVID than people who are not vaccinated - all impact on your recovery from acute COVID disease. It's ultimately, even in its mild form, a significant disease. The best advice is to go and check with your GP if you're concerned about your symptoms, if you're concerned about your recovery, talk to your GP and they will have different options for what might be happening, and if there is anything else you need to do or whether it's just a matter of time until you feel a bit better. So, as always, check with your health professional
Finally, just a refresher on Omicron. We're still getting a lot of questions about this variant and what it means. It seems to be the only thing we have talked about since late last year, when it, sort of, careened into our lives just before Christmas with impeccable timing. We're still learning and, like, with this virus, I know we say that all the time, and it's really frustrating, but we are still learning, but there are things that we know It's clearly more transmissible and that seems to be a mix between the virus itself being more infectious, but also the fact that it's much better at transmitting even in people who have had the virus before or people who were vaccinated. It also seems to be slightly milder, much more so for people who are vaccinated. So, we are seeing much higher case numbers, but lower hospitalisation rates, lower severe disease and lower death rates. However, because a lot of people are getting infected, overall we are still seeing a lot of hospitalisations. Vaccinated people have a much, much lower chance of... being (UNKNOWN) from this and boosted people seem to have a lower chance of being infected with it, in the first place. But there's still a lot we're learning. As it always happens, especially since lots of people are getting infected with it, new sub-variants are emerging, so we talk about BA1, BA2, but broadly they seem to have very similar behaviours, slightly milder disease, more infectious, seems to be better than other variants. Like, getting through prior infection or getting through vaccine, in terms of infecting. But the vaccines remain incredibly effective at reducing hospitalisations, severe disease and death. So if you're unvaccinated, please, please get your vaccines now. If you're, have had your two shots and it's been three months or more since you had your second dose, please get your booster, because that provides incredible protection against severe disease and it might actually reduce your chances of getting the Omicron variant all together.
That's all for today. Thank you very much for listening and continuing to submit your questions and be COVID safe. Thank you.
- Do the COVID-19 variants show different symptoms?
- It’s been a while since I recovered from COVID-19 but I’m still not feeling 100%, what things can I do to help my body recover?
- Can you provide any information on the new Omicron variant, what will this mean for me?