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Report Shows Omicron Variant Less Likely to Give Someone Long COVID

June 22, 2022 by Alexa Hornbeck
This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (CDC/TNS)

report released on June 18 and published in The Lancet shows the omicron variant is less likely to give someone long COVID than previous strains of the virus. 

The research is the first peer-reviewed study to report on long COVID risk associated with infection by the omicron variant, highlighting that health surveillance from smartphone apps can produce rapid insights.

The omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 was first detected in November 2021. Although the variant appears to cause less severe acute illness than previous variants, at least in vaccinated populations, there remain concerns about large numbers of people who continue to experience long-term symptoms.

To conduct the study researchers from the United Kingdom analyzed data from about 56,000 adult coronavirus cases that occurred from December 2021 to March 2022, when omicron was the dominant strain.

The cases were compared with 41,000 COVID-19 cases between June and November 2021, when delta was the dominant strain.

The researchers found that 4.4% of the individuals infected with omicron experienced long COVID symptoms, compared with 10.8% of those infected with the delta variant. 

This means the odds of experiencing long COVID symptoms when infected with omicron were 20%-50% less likely than when infected with delta. 

The researchers also observed less anosmia, or loss of smell, a common symptom, in those with omicron infection versus delta.

Alexa can be reached at alexa@thewellnews.com

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