The majority of people who were likely infected with the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, didn’t know they had the virus, according to a new study from Cedars-Sinai investigators. The findings are published in JAMA Network Open.
“More than one in every two people who were infected with Omicron didn’t know they had it,” said Susan Cheng, MD, MPH, director of the Institute for Research on Healthy Aging in the Department of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai and corresponding author of the study. “Awareness will be key for allowing us to move beyond this pandemic.”
Prior studies have estimated that at least 25% and possibly as many as 80% of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 may not experience symptoms. Compared to other SARS-CoV-2 variants, the Omicron variant is associated with generally less severe symptoms that may include fatigue, cough, headache, sore throat or a runny nose.
“Our study findings add to evidence that undiagnosed infections can increase transmission of the virus,” said Sandy Y. Joung, MHDS, an investigator at Cedars-Sinai and first author of the study. “A low level of infection awareness has likely contributed to the fast spread of Omicron.”
As part of research into the effects of COVID-19 and the impact of vaccines, the investigators began collecting blood samples from healthcare workers more than two years ago. In the fall of 2021, just before the start of the omicron variant surge, the investigators were able to expand enrollment to include patients, thanks to study infrastructure and biospecimen processing support provided by Sapient Bioanalytics.
Of the healthcare workers and patients who have participated in the research, investigators identified 2,479 people who had contributed blood samples just prior to or after the start of the Omicron surge. The investigators identified 210 people who likely were infected with the Omicron variant based on newly positive levels of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in their blood.
Source: Read Full Article