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  • Writer's pictureLucy Uber

COVID (omicron vs. delta) in our community

New Year new variant! Working as a pediatrician in Los Angeles, this is what we have been seeing. Kids ARE getting COVID. Earlier in the pandemic, we were not seeing children as affected by the alpha, delta, and earlier variants. With the omicron variant, we are seeing rapid spread through the pediatric community. Here is what we know so far:

  • Omicron attaches much better to the nasal mucosa and replicates at a much higher rate. It is therefore much better at spreading, including among the little ones.

  • The symptoms: nasal congestion, headache, body aches, fever, sore throat, and chills. The fever typically lasts about 48 hours.

  • Incubation time: appears to be much shorter in omicron vs. other variants. The average incubation period (time it takes from exposure to showing symptoms) is 2-3 days.

  • The good news: it appears it does not attach as well to the lung tissue and is therefore not causing the lung damage that prior variants have caused. Early experiments in lung cells indicate that this could be due to a protein called TMPRSS2, which is expressed on the surfaces of many cells in the lungs. Omicron has a difficult time infecting the cells through TMPRSS2.

  • Delta is still very much present in our community (estimates as of last week were 20% delta and 80% omicron)

  • Hospitalizations are up because this variant is so contagious that it is still affecting unvaccinated and immunocompromised. Vaccinated individuals with medical conditions should still take extra precautions at this time.

These are the latest updates. Have questions? DM or @lucyuberMD

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