New research shows that the Omicron variant is less likely to cause Long-COVID compared to the Delta variant. The findings are published in The Lancet.
This is the first peer-reviewed study to report the risk of Long-COVID associated with the Omicron variant. As per the NICE guidelines, Long-COVID is defined as new or ongoing symptoms four weeks or more after the start of the coronavirus infection. Possible symptoms of Long-COVID include fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of concentration and joint pain. These symptoms can potentially affect an individual's day-to-day activities and, in some serious cases, could be severely limiting.
Study researchers identified 56,003 adult cases that tested positive between December 20, 2021, and March 9th, 2022, when Omicron was the dominant strain. They compared these cases to 41,361 cases that tested positive between June 1, 2021, and November 27, 2021, when the Delta variant was dominant.
Findings show that only about 4.4% of Omicron cases were Long-COVID compared to 10.8% of Delta cases. However, it should be noted that the absolute number of people experiencing long COVID was higher in the Omicron period because of the vast numbers of people infected with this particular variant.
Overall, these findings show that the likelihood of experiencing Long-COVID was 20-50% less with the Omicron variant compared to the Delta period. These findings are based on age and time since vaccination. Nevertheless, 1 in 23 people infected with COVID-19 can develop Long-COVID symptoms. It is thus essential to provide these patients continued support at work, at home and within the healthcare system.
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