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Everything You Must Know About A Delta And Omicron Infection At Once.

By Manav Sodhi +2 more

We will always remember the second wave of COVID that was triggered by the Delta variant. But the worst is behind us. We have survived.


The potent Delta variant of COVID-19 was first identified in late 2020. It was a threatening variant that spread across countries and wreaked havoc. The virus was twice as contagious as the previous variants and affected many people. 

During late November 2021, as the cases began to decrease, we noticed the emergence of another mutant, better known as the Omicron variant. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the B.1.1.529 variant of COVID-19 a “variant of concern”.  

There was initially a steep rise in infections in South Africa which later spread rapidly across countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, and Mexico. In India, towards the end of January, we began to see a decline of Omicron as well.

In the wake of the two waves, scientists said that there is a possibility of people being affected by both variants. 

Who is more vulnerable to co-infection from Delta and Omicron variants of COVID-19? The answer is older people with comorbidities, people with a weaker immune system, and the ones who have multiple comorbidities. But the good news is, with proper caution, everyone can be safe.

Omicron and Delta: The differences

Symptoms

Firstly, we must remember that both Delta and Omicron are variants of the same SARS-CoV-2 virus. There is a wide range of symptoms and certain symptoms may be more prominent in one strain than the other but more or less remains similar.

The common symptoms include fever or chills, breathing troubles, fatigue, body and headache, throat pain, diarrhoea and more. If you are infected with the Delta variant, you may experience more severe headaches, sore throats, high-grade fever, cough, breathing difficulties and loss of taste and smell may be seen less. In case you are infected with Omicron, you are more likely to experience cold-like symptoms accompanied by sore throat and weakness. Fever may or may not be present. It is also considered milder than Delta in terms of disease severity and has less risk of hospitalization and death. People usually do not experience loss of taste or smell if they have been infected with the Omicron variant.

It is important to note that both delta and Omicron variants can cause a full spectrum of diseases ranging from asymptomatic, mild, moderate or even severe cases and deaths. The proportion of the population getting a severe illness or mild is definitely different for both variants.

It is not possible to confirm whether a person is infected by Delta variant or Omicron just by their symptoms. Genome sequencing is the only way to confirm the variant.

Transmissibility

When Delta was the dominant variant it was believed that it is highly contagious and unvaccinated people were at high risk. With Omicron we figured that it spreads more quickly than Delta due to the variant’s ability to evade immunity. It may have increased transmissibility owing to its shortened incubation period and its apparent ability to stay in the upper respiratory tract and multiply quicker there.  

Though the symptom profile isn’t too drastically different between the Delta and Omicron COVID-19 variants, data show that Omicron appears to be milder than Delta. The transmissibility is more with Delta and omicron and the rate of community spread is faster.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD

Can you be infected with Omicron and Delta at the same time?

Yes, a co-infection with both Omicron and Delta at the same time may happen. While it is not common, there are a few instances under research.

How can you get a coinfection of Omicron and Delta?

If a group of people gather at a place and some of them are infected with the Omicron variant and others have the Delta variant, you may be exposed to both variants through droplets.

As the Omicron variant will infect some cells, the Delta variant will infect others and that leads to higher chances of a coinfection. Not only that, but you may also contract both the Covid new strains one after the other in close succession.

How can you tell if you have an Omicron and Delta coinfection?

Both rapid Covid tests and RT PCR tests cannot identify which variant of the virus someone has. Hence, it is not easy to tell if you have a coinfection without genomic sequencing. The symptoms will not help you determine a coinfection, either. 

Can an Omicron and Delta coinfection be treated?

A coinfection can particularly make your body really weak and it is important to consult a doctor and take utmost care. If you neglect the infection and consider it just the flu, you may put yourself at risk of sudden complications. Proper treatment, medications, good nutrition, hydration, rest and routine monitoring of vitals can reduce the chances of hospitalizations to a great extent. 

Conclusion: The first and foremost thing to note here is that a fully vaccinated person has a significantly lower risk of a serious illness due to Covid. While having a coinfection of Omicron and Delta COVID-19 variants seems worrisome, with medication and proper care you can recover well. To stay protected against Delmicron, you must continue to wear a mask, follow covid appropriate behaviour and get vaccinated.

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