Omicron transmission period may be longer than imagined

The period that a person infected with the Ômicron variant (B.1.1.529) of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus transmits the disease may be different from the time of transmission of other strains of the covid-19 virus, according to a survey by the National Institute of Diseases. Infectious from Japan.

Data from the country indicate that patients with the Ômicron variant can transmit covid-19 for a longer time after the onset of symptoms. At present, preliminary data suggest that the amount of viral RNA is highest three to six days after diagnosis or the onset of symptoms.

The discovery, if confirmed, could compromise public health measures that reduced the isolation interval for patients with positive tests for covid-19, such as the United States, Brazil and England.

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Omicron transmission time differs from other strains of the covid-19 virus (Image: Reproduction/Photocreo/Envato)

In the Brazilian case, asymptomatic patients with a negative test – here, the antigen test can be done, which is less accurate – can resume their activities in 5 days, adding some extra care, such as wearing masks and avoiding agglomerations. As the risk of a false negative exists, the measure may eventually favor the transmission of covid-19. However, more data is still needed.

Ômicron transmission time difference

Disregarding the Ômicron variant, previous studies suggest that the peak of transmission for people with covid-19 occurs in the period of two days before the onset of symptoms and three days after. In other words, the peak occurred just before and shortly after symptoms appeared.

Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, still defends the initial understanding. Most of the transmission of the virus occurs early in the course of the disease, which happens, “generally, one or two days before the onset of symptoms and two or three days later”, explains the entity.

On the other hand, the survey on Ômicron in Japan points to a different path. According to Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia in England, the new data suggest that the peak of virus spread may occur two or three days after symptoms appear.

Potentially, the discovery could change public health measures that have recently been updated. However, more data and studies are needed to confirm the behavior change of the covid-19 virus.

Source: BMJ e National Institute of Infectious Diseases of Japan

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