What was clear from the beginning was that Omicron has 50 mutations, with more than 30 on the spike protein, the part that vaccines target.
This made experts fear that Omicron would be more resistant to vaccines than previous strains.
Now, data from cases in London gathered using the ZOE app has given scientists more information about the actual symptoms of Omicron and what makes it different from other strains of the virus.
Those who have contracted Omicron have shared information about their symptoms in order for scientists to learn more about the variant.
Here's all you need to know about Omicron variant symptoms in adults and how you know if you have the fast-spreading variant.
What are the main symptoms of the Omicron variant in adults?
ZOE data scientists have analysed findings in London, where the cases of the Omicron variant are higher than anywhere else in the country.
They compared information on Omicron with data from early October when Delta was the dominant strain to identify any differences or similarities between the two.
The main symptoms of the Omicron variant are:
- Runny nose
- Fatigue (mild or severe)
- Sore throat
Other common reported symptoms included brain fog and loss of appetite.
What’s more, only 50% of people experienced the classic three symptoms of a fever, a cough, or loss of sense of smell or taste.
The symptoms of Omicron are also thought to be fairly mild, meaning there has been an 8% drop in UK COVID hospitalisations, falling from 987.7 a week on the 15th of November to 811 a week on the 15th of December.
However, the variant is still dangerous enough to cause concern.
This is because, as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has emphasised in her briefings to the public, even if the Omicron variant kills or leaves long-lasting symptoms on only a fraction of people who contract it, the rapid spread of the variant to so many means this could still affect a high number of people.
How do I know if I have Omicron or Delta?
Considering the five main symptoms of Omicron, the analysis from ZOE found “no clear difference in the symptom profile of Delta and Omicron”.
That means that genetic testing is the only way to find out if you specifically have the Omicron variant.
Genomic sequencing is slow and not done in every case, so you may not find out if you have Omicron if you have tested positive for Covid.
However, the measures you should take are the same whether you contract Omicron, Delta, or another variant of Covid.
If you suspect you have Covid or are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you should self-isolate immediately and test yourself using a lateral flow.
Ms Sturgeon has also encouraged people to test regularly, regardless of whether you have symptoms, as some people can be asymptomatic.
If your lateral flow test is positive, you should then arrange to have a PCR test as soon as possible.
If this PCR test result is positive, you must continue to self-isolate until you test negative again.
Can you get Delta and Omicron at the same time?
Technically speaking, experts believe that you could get both variants at the same time, but it would be very unlikely.
You could contract both variants at the same time, but Omicron will likely spread throughout your body faster and overtake Delta, as it doubles itself much faster than Delta and has a mutated spike gene that allows it to enter human cells more easily.