The Science behind the Omicron and Delta Variants: Symptoms and How to Protect Yourself


Raghav Pallapothu, Science Columnist

Fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, are all symptoms of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection also known as coronavirus. The breakthrough of this virus began in December of 2019 in Wuhan, China, and quickly spread throughout the globe. With transoceanic travel methods like international flights, cruise ships, and boats, COVID-19 quickly spread throughout many countries like the United Kingdom, United States, India, China, and more. Within months, the world shut down completely. Forbidden to return to school, students endured stressful days of Zoom, while hospitals faced a deficit of employees and an abundance of patients. As the cases started to calm down and the COVID-19 vaccine was soon to launch, life seemed to return to normal, until the Delta Variant appeared. The Delta Variant brutally hit countries like India, introducing the second wave of the COVID pandemic, causing many breakthrough infections and allowing many to question how efficacious the vaccine is against the variant. Then, variant after variant, the pandemic seemed to become worse.

First Alpha, Delta, Beta, Mu, and now, the deadly Omicron. Omicron is not a variant to underestimate. Big companies like Moderna and BioNTech have confirmed that they are on schedule to develop a vaccine against Omicron, showing how dangerous this variant is. Throughout the chaos of variants arising, many start to wonder what the science behind the Omicron and Delta Variant is, and how we can protect ourselves from them. A variant is a genome from a virus that may contain multiple mutations. Omicron and Delta are classified as variants because there are few “mutations” in the genetic codes of the viruses. These small changes in their code can create a higher risk variant than the actual COVID-19 virus itself.

Symptoms of Omicron can include nasal congestion, sore throat, back pain, minor loss of hearing, etc. However, many of those who contracted the Omicron variant suggests that they experienced symptoms that mirror the symptoms of the original COVID-19, without losing their sense of smell or taste. As a result of the powerful Omicron variant, the cases in New York and in the United States, have skyrocketed.

Symptoms of the Delta Variant include cough, fever, headache, significant loss of smell, and more. Physicians found that the Delta Variant symptoms are extremely similar to the original COVID-19 symptoms. However, the Delta Variant is much more contagious, and younger people contract the virus quicker.

The common reality between both variants is that they target the unvaccinated population. Physicians, doctors, and medical professionals all encourage vaccination for all kids and adults, as ages 5 and older can now receive the 1st and 2nd doses of the vaccine. However, infections, while vaccinated, are possible. Therefore, it is crucial for everyone to continue to wear their mask correctly and to always follow social distancing guidelines.

As a message to the students of Vestal High School, for life to return to normal, we need to stop the spread of the virus now!