Don’t let “stealth” Omicron sneak up on you

doctors treating patient for the omicron variant

Manish, M. Naik, MD, Internal Medicine and ARC Chief Medical Officer (CMO), discussed the latest COVID variant, called the "stealth" Omicron in Men's Health. Here's what you need to know.

What exactly is "stealth" Omicron?

According to Dr. Naik, this variant, which has been formally recognized by the World Health Organization, has the official name BA.2. Standard Omicron is referred to as BA.1. "Stealth" Omicron, or BA.2, was initially detected in Canada, Australia, the U.K., and South Africa in December, and a few cases have more recently been discovered in the U.S., he says.

"Omicron is very contagious and, according to Danish scientists, the BA.2 variant is slightly more contagious (1.5 times) than the first Omicron strain," Dr. Naik explains. "While it appears that BA.2 does not cause more severe disease, COVID could linger longer in our community due to this new Omicron strain."

"Stealth" Omicron symptoms

Current studies are showing that its symptoms are generally the same as other variants and resembling mostly mild to moderate flu-like symptoms, especially for those who are vaccinated.

How to protect yourself against "stealth" Omicron

The available vaccines appear to be effective against this variant, especially for those who received a booster shot, Dr. Naik says. In fact, a recent CDC report that examined hospital ER and urgent care center data found that vaccine effectiveness against ER visits and hospitalizations was higher after the third dose (booster shot) than after the second dose, though effectiveness appeared to wane after four months, which may possibly later signal a need for another booster dose in the future.

Get vaccinated and continue to live your life

It may seem like the world will never return to the normal we once knew in the "before times," and Dr. Naik says that's not that far off from the truth. But the bottom line is that staying on top of vaccine guidelines and recommendations, along with continuing to stay home if you feel sick and regularly wash your hands, are the best things you can do to stay healthy and live your life.

"COVID is not going away and the best way to protect yourselves and your family is to get vaccinated and boosted," says Dr. Naik.

Book your vaccine or booster at ARC

If you have not yet received your vaccine or booster, book an appointment online today at ARC. Still have questions? Visit the ARC FAQ page or call the ARC 24/7 COVID-19 Hotline at 866-453-4525.

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