What was initially only a faint hope has now been confirmed: The Omikron variant provides milder gradients than its predecessor Delta. But what does «mild» actually mean?

The coronavirus variant, which was initially detected in South Africa, has a reputation for milder courses than the Delta -Cause mutant.

& laquo; Mild course

Nevertheless, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, warns against calling the variant” mild “.

& laquo; milder course & raquo ; does not necessarily mean what you think

« Just like the previous variants, people have to be hospitalized for Omicron, and it kills people, »Tedros explained at the beginning of January 2022. What« mild »with Covid- 19 specifically means is not clearly defined.


  • It is said that the omicron variant of the coronavirus leads to milder courses.

  • But the attribution is misleading.

  • Medical professionals and medical laypersons each understand something different by this.

The appearance of the youngest coronavirus mutant Omikron, which is listed by the World Health Organization as a worrying variant (VOC), is causing a rapid increase in the number of cases worldwide – also because it can infect those who have already recovered and who have been vaccinated. At the same time, however, it seems to ensure less severe gradients than the delta variant, which was dominant until recently. This is indicated, among other things, by two studies from Great Britain, according to which omicron infections end up less frequently in hospitals.

Carriers of the mutant, which was initially identified in South Africa, can therefore hope for a “mild” outcome. Opinions differ on what that means, however, as Twitter user @SubCaptainGirl writes: “Non-medical practitioners hear 'mild' and think of 'hot chocolate and a film day', medical practitioners think of 'will not need assisted breathing to be alive stay. ›»

Different interpretations of the term

In fact, the word “mild” is interpreted differently by medical professionals and non-medical professionals, as the repost of the tweet on the Instagram profile of US pediatrician Christina Johns makes clear: “My friend from the healthcare sector reminds us again and again that “Mild” sounds like a cold, even though it actually means we won't die, ”one comment said.

Chris Carroll, intensive care physician at Connecticut Children's Medical Center and professor of paediatrics at the University of Connecticut, put it in concrete terms on Twitter: “A 'mild' illness can still be very serious!” It irritates him that “we as a nation” have adopted the intensive care unit definition of “mild” for the pandemic. «‹Good› in the intensive care unit doesn't really mean ‹good› – it still means very sick!»

«A ‹mild› illness can still very serious! »

Chris Carroll, intensive care doctor in the US state of Connecticut.

The boundary between “mild” and “moderate” is not very clear

What “mild” means in concrete terms in Covid-19 is not clearly defined. There are different scales up for discussion, each with a different number of levels. In an eight-stage process, a course is still considered “mild” (stages 3 to 4) if the infected person has to go to hospital. At level 3 he does not need any oxygen, at level 4 breathing must be supported with a plastic oxygen mask or an oxygen tube. On a ten-point scale, a course is considered “mild” (levels 1 to 3) if the sick person needs medical support but does not have to be hospitalized. From the moment of admission to the hospital, we speak of a “moderate course” (levels 4 and 5). A severe course (levels 6 to 9) is therefore only reached when high-flow oxygen therapy is used. Several liters of oxygen are pumped into the lungs every minute.

All scales have in common that they show that Omikron should not be underestimated. The variant is “not a children's birthday”, writes the science influencer Marc Raschke on Instagram. Especially not for unprotected high-risk patients who are “still in danger of a severe course”. The WHO also warns against considering Omikron as “mild”. “Just like the previous variants, people have to go to hospital because of Omicron, and it kills people,” said the AFP news agency, quoted director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

«Just like the previous variants, people have to go to hospital because of omicron, and it kills people.»

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus , WHO Director General.

In addition, people with a mild course are not immune to Long Covid. Even mild Covid-19 courses leave traces on organs and can impair the functions of the heart, lungs and kidneys, as doctors from Hamburg show.

Do you or someone you know have trouble with the corona time?

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BAG-Infoline Coronavirus, Tel. 058 463 00 00

BAG-Infoline Covid-19 vaccination, Tel. 058 377 88 92

Dureschnufe.ch, platform for mental health related to Corona

Safezone.ch, anonymous online advice on addiction issues

Industry Aid.ch, Advice for affected economic sectors

Pro Juventute, advice for children and young people, Tel. 147

Dargebotene Hand, Worry Hotline, Tel. 143

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By Teresa Tapmleton

Teresa Tampleton has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Nizh TEkegram, Teresa Tampleton worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teresa@ntelegram.com 1-800-268-7341

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