Omicron less likely to lead to long COVID, study finds


The Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant is as a lot as 50% much less prone to trigger lengthy COVID than its predecessor Delta variant, in keeping with a letter published yesterday in The Lancet.

However the authors of the examine level out that, regardless that the speed of Omicron lengthy COVID seems to be decrease, as a result of so many have been contaminated with the newer variant, the precise variety of affected individuals could be very excessive.

Although extra simply transmitted, the Omicron variant causes much less extreme illness usually than Delta, quite a few earlier research have proven.

Lengthy COVID 24% to 50% decrease with Omicron

Researchers from King’s School London recognized 56,003 UK adults who examined constructive for COVID-19 from Dec 20, 2021, to Mar 9, 2022. Provided that greater than 70% of UK instances had been attributable to Omicron throughout that stretch, they categorized them as Omicron sufferers. Likewise, 41,361 adults who examined constructive from Jun 1, 2021, to Nov 27, 2021, had been labeled as Delta sufferers.

Ladies outnumbered males in each teams, 55% for Omicron and 59% for Delta. However individuals in each teams had been of comparable age (imply, 53 years) and had an identical fee of comorbidities (round 19%).

They outlined lengthy COVID as having new or ongoing signs 4 weeks or extra after COVID-19 onset. Signs embody fatigue, shortness of breath, lack of focus, and joint ache. These signs can restrict every day actions and in some instances be severely limiting.

Sufferers logged their signs through a smartphone app.

The investigators discovered that 2,501 (4.5%) of the Omicron sufferers and 4,469 (10.8%) of Delta sufferers skilled lengthy COVID. Whatever the timing of vaccine, the chances of lengthy COVID for Omicron sufferers had been 24% to 50% lower than for Delta sufferers (95% confidence intervals, 20% to 32% and 43% to 59%, respectively).

Although decrease fee, increased lengthy COVID numbers

The authors write, “We consider that is the primary peer-reviewed examine to report on lengthy COVID threat related to an infection by the omicron variant, highlighting that well being surveillance utilizing smartphone apps can produce fast insights, which now we have constantly proven are correct and subsequently replicated.”

However as a result of Omicron results in so many instances, they be aware, absolutely the variety of individuals experiencing lengthy COVID was increased within the Omicron interval. “Our information are per the UK Workplace for Nationwide Statistics, who estimated that the numbers of individuals experiencing lengthy COVID really elevated from 1.3 million in January, 2022, to 1.7 million in March, 2022,” the authors add.

They conclude, “Contemplating the UK omicron peak of greater than 350,000 new symptomatic COVID-19 instances per day estimated on March 26, 2022, by the ZOE app mannequin and 4% of instances being lengthy COVID, future numbers with lengthy COVID will inevitably rise.”

Senior writer Claire Steves, PhD, stated in a King’s School London news release, “The Omicron variant seems considerably much less prone to trigger Lengthy-COVID than earlier variants, however nonetheless 1 in 23 individuals who catch COVID-19 go on to have signs for greater than 4 weeks. Given the numbers of individuals affected it is essential that we proceed to assist them.”

Different new lengthy COVID research

In different long-COVID information, a examine of 173 recovered COVID-19 sufferers within the St. Joseph’s Well being Community in New Jersey reveals that 23.1% of sufferers nonetheless skilled no less than one persistent symptom 2 years after an infection. The findings appeared yesterday in Scientific Microbiology and An infection.

Individuals accomplished a questionnaire in March and April 2021, earlier than Delta had grow to be dominant in america.

The commonest reported long-COVID signs had been shortness of breath (13.2% of individuals), fatigue (12.1%), problem focusing/mind fog (10.4%), reminiscence loss (9.2%), and anxiousness (8.1%).

In one other new study, carried out over 15 months from February 2020 by means of Could 2021 and revealed in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry, specialists with the Massachusetts Common Hospital (MGH) element 87 confirmed and 13 presumed instances of lengthy COVID in sufferers who weren’t hospitalized after contracting COVID-19.

A key characteristic of the examine is that 75% of the sufferers had been white educated ladies. Senior writer Zeina Chemali, MD, MPH, director of the Neuropsychiatry Clinics and Coaching at MGH, stated in a hospital news release, “Regardless that we all know Black Individuals and Latinx people received very sick with COVID-19, we didn’t see them within the lengthy haulers clinic.”

“Generally, sufferers with lengthy COVID current with ‘mind fog,’ a imprecise description together with lack of sleep, anxiousness, despair and a historical past of headache or migraine mixed with hassle with consideration and phrase discovering difficulties in addition to govt dysfunction,” she added.

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