The results of this early infodemic analysis suggest that the diffusion of highly mutated SARS-CoV-2 variants may be associated with a progressive evolution of the clinical picture. Specifically, the actual predominance of the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant in the Italy (>80% cases) is associated with a remarkably higher number of Google searches for upper respiratory symptoms mirroring those of common cold and flu, accompanied by a considerable lower interest for shortness of breath (over 20% reduction). Since dyspnoea is a paradigmatic sign of lower pulmonary tract infection (e.g., SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia), this infodemic evidence supports preliminary claims that the Omicron variant outbreak (due to either alterations in intrinsic viral pathogenicity and/or enhanced general population immunity) may be associated with less severe illness compared to outbreaks with previous strains.
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