Per the updated protocol³, asymptomatic general public and healthcare workers need to go into isolation for 7 days after the onset of their symptoms if they are fully vaccinated. Asymptomatic close contacts with full vaccination only need to isolate themselves for 5 days.
Remember that the majority of the participants in the Japanese study were also already fully vaccinated.
The Good Points: Omicron Might Be More Transmissible, But Less Lethal
Since the Japanese study is fairly small, with only 21 participants, the government may not revise the new isolation protocol anytime soon. After all, even the newest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggest a shorter isolation duration. Asymptomatic patients – regardless of vaccination status — only need to isolate for 5 days.
At this point, shorter quarantine guidelines should not cause panic, especially since studies show that Omicron appears to be less lethal than Delta.
In one research involving 97 confirmed and suspected Omicron cases and 107 Delta infections, the researchers concluded that⁴:
- The mean duration for Omicron was 9.87 days and 10.9 days for Delta.
- Omicron’s peak viral load is lower than Delta’s peak viral load.
- The clearance phase is shorter for Omicron than Delta.
Reports also say that the Omicron is more likely to infect the throat than the lungs, and this might make the variant less lethal. This could explain why it’s so transmissible and why a South African study noted that saliva PCR tests are better in detecting the Omicron than swabs⁵.
But this should not make the public complacent. Omicron is still fairly new, so studies are ongoing. Experts also emphasize that Omicron can still lead to hospitalization.
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