Answers to infection, incubation and disease

Professor Fabrizio Brigliasco explains to what are the symptoms of the Omicron 5 variant, what are the incubation times and how long the disease lasts.

meeting with Professor Fabrizio Brigliasco

Virologist, University of Milan

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The numbers speak for themselves and are unforgiving. In the latest bulletin issued by the Ministry of Health, more than 107 thousand infections were recorded in Italy and 94 deaths, and the current positive is close to 1.2 million, but this is certainly an underestimated number because there are many who show mild symptoms, who succumb to undergoing a control test.

In short, the new wave of Covid is moving at a rapid pace and infections will grow predictably until the end of July, then decline in August. “We are in a transitional phase – explains Professor Fabrizio Brigliasco to – ​​with a significant increase in infection due to the presence of Omicron 5, a highly contagious variant capable of evading protection conferred by vaccines and a previous infection. Everything. This means that there is an increase Formidable in cases, but severe cases are relatively few.”

They have also been vaccinated and people who have previously had contact with the virus, even a few months ago, are also infected. How is that?

Covid-19 infections, updated situation in Campania

Yes, 9% of daily infections are found among people who have previously encountered the disease: vaccination or infection with the Covid virus means that these people all have an immune system that significantly reduces the most serious symptoms. For this reason, cases of this wave often present with less pronounced symptoms than in the past. Using a metaphor: It is like having brakes that cannot completely stop the car, but are nonetheless able to slow it down and reduce the consequences of an accident.

What are the symptoms of the Omicron 5 variant?

There is a very diverse case history. And there are those who show severe symptoms, with a fever of up to 39 and a loss of taste and smell. Omicron acts mainly in the upper airways but sometimes also reaches the lungs and causes serious pneumonia. On the other hand, many experience milder symptoms such as cough, cold and mild sore throat. And that’s good news, but it’s also “stealing”: those with these symptoms don’t wipe or go out and infect others often.

What is the incubation period? And – in general – what is the extent of the disease?

The incubation period is generally between 3 and 5 days, although times can be longer as always. The disease usually lasts 5/7 days, then clears up. However, there is no shortage of people who remain positive even for 15 days. In short, the hypotheses are many and depend on individual circumstances: if you were vaccinated, how long you received the last dose, if you were sick before, you had previous diseases and of what kind. Certainly those who are better off are those who have made the “emergence”: vaccinated and those who have already contracted the virus in the past.

Are unvaccinated still taking too much risk?

absolutely yes. Chances of critical illness, including admission to an intensive care unit and death, remain important for vulnerable unvaccinated individuals.

However, large segments of the population have passed the idea that a vaccine with Omicron is of little use. Shall we explain?

Exactly, I know that some have this belief but it must be said that it is completely unfounded. It is not their fault. There has been a false narrative in the past few months. It has been said that the virus has “got cold”, which is not true: it is simply a little better and affects people who are already vaccinated or infected, and therefore are partially protected by their immune system. It must be remembered that the vaccine has value – today about 40% – in avoiding infection, but above all it has excellent performance against serious diseases.

With hundreds of thousands of cases every day, what would you do today if you were the Minister of Health?

I think at this point, as the EMA also said, a booster dose should be proposed with vaccines already available for over 60 years: even if it hasn’t yet been updated to new variants, it can still relaunch the response. T-cell immune system: A new fall vaccination campaign should then be carefully planned, presumably recommended for the elderly and frail. Non-pharmacological interventions must then be reconfigured: eg, mandatory inner mask.

What do we know about the BA 2.75 variant? Is it really five times more contagious than the current one?

Yes, but we still need a better understanding. For now, we can only make theoretical considerations on the basis of mutations, two of which are very important to the virus: one is a better ability to evade protection from the vaccine, and the other is a greater ability to bind to the Ace2 receptor. These are two very useful features of the virus. It is a matter of understanding whether this alternative will take charge: if so, as we fear, he will become the champion of the next wave.

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