We found out shortly after its discovery that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is more transmissible but (for most patients) less severe than others. As research continues, however, even more disparities are becoming known—and a couple of the latest could affect how you approach to both testing and office hygiene. An article just published online by Reuters quotes multiple studies in the U.S. and abroad revealing the optimal method of testing for Omicron and how durable Omicron is. First, researchers in San Francisco and Spain reported that nasal swab testing is far more accurate than swabbing other sites. In the San Francisco study, nasal swabbing “detected over 95% of persons with the highest levels of virus who are most likely contagious.” Conversely, throat swabbing detected around 40% fewer cases in patients diagnosed with Omicron COVID. The Spanish study focused on cheek swabbing, again finding that nasal swabbing is far more accurate. Meanwhile, researchers in Japan have found evidence that Omicron can live longer on plastic and skin than other variants of COVID-19, meaning that strong surface and hand disinfecting practices are warranted. Omicron survived for 191.3 hours on the plastic surfaces tested. By comparison, the Delta variant “lived” for 114 hours on the same surfaces. The Delta variant survived for 16.8 hours on cadaver skin samples, while the Omicron variant lasted 21.1 hours.
More Clues Show Just How ‘Different’ Omicron Is—and They Might Change Your Approach