RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Dr. Dirk Dittmer runs UNC’s coronavirus sequencing lab and co-leads the state surveillance program, CORVASEQ.
The lab looks at the DNA of virus samples to figure out which variants are spreading in the state.
“I’m really not surprised how quickly omicron is taking over because that’s what new variants do. They evolve to replicate faster and faster,” said Dittmer.
Research from the United Kingdom has found the top five symptoms of omicron are similar to the cold: runny nose, headache, fatigue, sneezing, and sore throat.
Patients won’t be notified which variant they have if they test positive.
But does it matter if you know?
“It matters a little bit,” said Dittmer.
Dittmer said knowing may help tailor your treatment.
“We have many treatments that work irrespective of which variant you have but there’s still a few on the shelf that are not as effective against omicron as they were against delta,” he said.
Public health departments, on the other hand, are notified about the variants detected in their area. It gives them a heads up on what to expect in the coming weeks.
“The more omicron, the more rapid the wave and the more steep an increase in ICU needs we will experience so it goes towards planning for the entire state,” said Dittmer.
Regardless of which variant you have, Dittmer said the same preventative measures work: masking, distancing and vaccinations. He said those who are unvaccinated are rolling the dice with omicron.
“Whether they will have mild disease or end up in the hospital, and I don’t want anyone to be in the hospital over the holidays,” said Dittmer.