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The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been shown to produce less severe illness than previous varieties of the virus—for the most part. Much of the data assembled, to date, reflect lower risk for hospitalization and death in vaccinated patients. The unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated don’t necessarily run the same low risk. Perhaps more importantly, the World Health Organization just shared circumstances in which patients may be at high risk for severe disease even with Omicron. Worsening symptoms such as dehydration, light-headedness in older adults or confusion, bluing lips, and refusal to eat in children, for example, could indicate an emergent situation. With anecdotal evidence growing that some people in the United States are considering “Omicron parties” to increase the chance of infection and, consequently, developing antibodies, the message has to be clear: All forms of COVID-19, including Omicron, are potentially dangerous. The WHO created a patient-friendly page of questions-and-answers on home care and prevention related to COVID-19. Check it out here before recommending it to your patients.

Yes, Omicron Tends to Be Less Severe—but Patients Need to Understand the Exceptions