COVID-19 Omicron Variant: 7 Subtle Signs You’ve Already Had COVID-19 Omicron Without Knowing It, Study Says

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The variant has a high number of spike mutations that could affect transmissibility. Here are 7 subtle signs you’ve already had a new coronavirus variant.

Omicron, also known as B.1.1.529, was first detected in Botswana and South Africa earlier this month, and very little is known about it so far. But the variant is moving fast. South Africa, the country that initially flagged Omicron to WHO this week, has experienced a surge of new cases—some reportedly in people who were previously infected or vaccinated—and the virus has already spilled across international borders into places such as Hong Kong, Belgium, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

“Good reason to be worried” as Omicron COVID variant spreads fast.

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus that was first detected in South Africa has now spread to at least 14 countries. Some experts believe it’s likely already reached the U.S., but as governments including America’s race to impose travel restrictions, scientists are racing to figure out how much more dangerous than previous strains this mutated virus really is.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the new variant was likely already in the United States, He also warns people whose these symptoms should see the doctor. Here are 7 sure signs you’ve already had coronavirus without knowing it.

If you didn’t receive a positive COVID-19 test when you were sick, it’s harder to know if you had the disease.

There are no sure signs that you already had COVID-19. But there are some general symptoms you may have experienced, such as

  • pink eye
  • loss of taste or smell
  • fatigue

Keep reading as we look at these signs in more depth

Signs that you may have already had COVID-19 Omicron Variant

COVID-19 can affect many different parts of your body and cause general symptoms that have many potential causes. Some people with COVID-19 don’t develop any symptoms.

It’s impossible to know if you had an infection for sure without a positive COVID-19 test, but here are some of the potential signs.

1. You had a “bad cold.”

Early in the pandemic, people believed that COVID-19 didn’t start circulating in the U.S. until late February and March. New research from the University of Texas suggests otherwise. For the study, scientists analyzed throat swabs taken last winter in people who had suspected flu cases. These swabs were done in Wuhan, China (where the novel coronavirus originated) and Seattle, Washington (where the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the U.S.).

The researchers discovered that for every two cases of the flu, there was one case of COVID-19. As a result, they believe COVID-19 likely arrived in the U.S. sometime around Christmas.

“It took longer to get out to rural areas so, if you were on a farm this winter and you had the sniffles, you probably just had a cold. If you were in New York City or another major city, you might have had a COVID infection and never knew it,” Dr. Schaffner says.

It can be tough to distinguish a cold from a mild form of COVID-19 without a test, depending on which symptoms you experience, he says, but colds don’t typically cause shortness of breath, severe headaches, or gastrointestinal symptoms like COVID-19 can. Here’s the full list of the CDC’s official symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

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