Delta, Omicron and Stealth Omicron: Differentiating Factors Between the Three Variants of COVID-19

COVID-19 was first detected in late 2019 and ever since it has spread all around the world. As of now, India has survived three deadly waves with different variants of the virus SARS-CoV-2. The second wave was dominated by the delta variant, while the bout was driven by the omicron version. However, there is now a new sub-variant of omicron namely B.A-2 variant (also known as stealth omicron) that is majorly responsible for all the new cases. A team at IIT Kanpur has predicted this variant to be the reason for a possible fourth wave of the pandemic in India.

Here’s how we can differentiate between the three variants based on their symptoms:

Delta Variant

This variant caused a huge number of deaths during the second wave as the primary symptom in people with comorbidity and unvaccinated people was the decrease in oxygen saturations levels. However, vaccinated people were more likely to have mild symptoms like common cold, cough, fever, or headache with significant loss of smell and taste.

Omicron Variant

While this variant is declared more contagious than delta by the World Health Organization, the symptoms are milder. The most common symptoms are fever, cough, tiredness, loss of taste and smell. The lesser common symptoms are sore throat, headache, body aches, diarrhea, rash on the skin, discolouration of fingers or toes, red or irritated eyes. Some of the more serious symptoms of omicron are shortness of breath, loss of speech or mobility, confusion or chest pain.

Stealth Omicron Variant

While the symptoms of this new subvariant are similar to that of omicron, the differentiating factor of stealth omicron is its ability to escape detection in RT-PCR tests. While this variant isn’t considered to be as deadly as delta, researchers at IIT Kanpur have suggested this to be the reason for the fourth wave in India. The fourth wave is expected to hit during June and would likely go on for four months with its peak reaching in August.

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