A new study from Oslo shows the transmission of the novel coronavirus variant Omikron.
It all started with a company party on November 26 in Oslo, Norway. At the invitation of solar manufacturer Scatec, 117 people gathered at Louise’s restaurant to celebrate Christmas early. Among them was a person who had previously returned from South Africa in whom the Omicron variant was first discovered.
Vaccinated and tested
“Everyone has been vaccinated. “None of them showed symptoms and they all underwent a self-test before eating,” Tyne Ruffalo, head of the city’s health department, told AFP. “Everything was done correctly and none of the rules were broken,” she asserted.
After the outbreak was discovered on November 30, a community doctor in Oslo asked all party attendees to self-isolate at home for 10 days and take a PCR test immediately. Those who tested positive were required to remain in isolation for at least 7 days.
After evaluating the tests, it is now clear: At the end of the celebration, at least 66 people had contracted the Omikron variant, while the variant remains unclear for another 15 people who have tested positive for the virus. The other participants had not received a positive PCR result by December 13.
Study sheds light on darkness
Meanwhile, a new cohort study by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health reveals new details and shows what to expect from the world with Omikron in the coming weeks and months.
On average, guests were last vaccinated 79 days ago. None of the participants received a booster vaccination. 96 percent of those surveyed were fully vaccinated, while 98 percent of those vaccinated received two doses of the mRNA vaccine. The average age of the respondents was less than 40 years. Infections show an overall Omicron infection rate of 74 per cent at a Christmas party in Oslo.
Assuming the exposure occurred at the party, the incubation period for symptomatic cases ranged from 0 to 8 days with a median of 3 days, which is significantly shorter compared to the previous numbers for delta and previously circulated variants.
So far, none of the cases have been hospitalized. Although nearly all participants were vaccinated, infection was asymptomatic in 91 percent. The most common symptoms were cough (83%), followed by runny/stuffy nose (78%), fatigue/lethargy (74%), sore throat (72%), headache (68%) and fever (54%).
When asked about symptom severity on a scale from 1 (no symptoms) to 5 (significant symptoms), 42 percent reported Level 3 symptoms, while 11 percent reported Level 4 symptoms.
The researchers also found that nearly 70 other guests who were also in the restaurant had contracted the virus. The omicron variant was detected in 53 cases.
The authors’ conclusion: “Initial results from our outbreak investigation indicate that Omikron is highly transmissible among fully vaccinated young adults and middle-aged adults.”
However, given the specific context of the outbreak in an environment with a high risk of transmission, the results should be interpreted with caution. Investigation will continue to determine the full scope and duration of the disease, risk factors for infection, and the extent of secondary transmission.
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