Studies by researchers at King’s College London revealed that the Omicron variant is less likely to cause long-term Covid compared to Delta. This was the first peer-reviewed survey to report this risk.
The odds of prolonged exposure to Covid were 20% to 50% lower during the omicron prevalence period than during the delta-variable season, depending on age and time since vaccination.
Prolonged Covid is defined as the presence of new or persistent symptoms for four or more weeks after disease onset. These symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of concentration, and joint pain. They can negatively affect daily activities and, in some cases, are very limited.
The study identified 56,003 cases of adults in the UK who first tested positive between 20 December 2021 and 9 March 2022, when Omicron was the predominant variant.
The researchers compared these cases to 41,361 people who first tested positive between June 1, 2021 and November 27, 2021, when the delta variant was prevalent.
Analysis shows that 4.4% of micron cases were long-term, compared to 10.8% of delta cases.
However, the absolute number of people with prolonged Covid-19 was actually higher in the micron period, thanks to the large number of people infected with this variant between December 2021 and February 2022.
This year in particular, the UK Statistics Office estimated that the number of people with prolonged Covid-19 infection rose from 1.3 million in January to 2 million on May 1.
“The Omicron variant appears to have a much lower chance of causing prolonged Covid-19 than the previous variants, yet 1 in 23 people who get sick develop symptoms for more than four weeks,” Claire Steves told King’s College.
“Given the number of people affected, it is important that we continue to support them at work, at home and in the health care system,” said the researcher who signed the article published in The Lancet.
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