Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 — July 27, 2022

“Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

579.  New Covid strains bring some new symptoms.

         QAre the signs and symptoms for all Covid-19 variants the same?

         A:  No.  Shawn Mawhiney at Hartford Hospital drew on the expertise of Ulysses Wu, MD, chief epidemiologist at the hospital, and recently published the following article:

The BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, which now make up 50% of all Covid-19 cases nationally, are driving Connecticut’s positivity rate upward once again.  While the jury is still out on these strains and what the future holds for the pandemic, one thing is for sure – this is not your original version of COVID.  Here is what we are learning so far about the Omicron offshoots:

  • They are more contagious but have less severe symptoms than earlier strains.
  • They don’t respond as well to vaccines.
  • Scientists are racing to develop a new vaccine that better protects against Omicron variants.

Here is what you need to know about symptoms according to a small study specific to Omicron:

  • A hoarse voice is more common than loss of taste or smell, which were much more prevalent with earlier strains.
  • Cough is the most common symptom, followed by fatigue, congestion, runny nose, and fever.
  • Less common were nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and diarrhea.

“This may be our new baseline,” said doctor Wu. “With extremely contagious variants and a population that is ambivalent at best towards COVID, I think this is where we’re going to live right now. We’re not quite at the common cold, but we’re getting there.”

Wu said he expects a more significant spike this fall, when people move indoors.  “Levels are not going to approach winter levels or last summer’s delta variant levels, but we also will not approach the lows that we would like to see,” said Dr. Wu.  “We will continue to go through waves or ‘swells’ throughout the early summer at the least, with a likely spike in late fall.”  Wu said people should continue to wear masks indoors. 

Opinion 2:   Many women are not heard when describing their long Covid condition.

Lisa Freeman is the executive director of the Connecticut Center for Patient Safety.  She was recently quoted in a Hartford Courant article about the persistent emergence of long Covid even though the more recent cases of Covid-19 have not required hospitalizations at the previous rates.

She is quoted, “Studies have found long Covid is more prevalent in women, and research shows that women are often less believed about health issues that aren’t really obvious.  I’m concerned that women are not being taken as seriously when they present with long Covid symptoms.  It has to do with a lot of societal and preconceived notions.  But I think we need to make sure that all patients are given respect and regard for what they’re saying.”