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According to the first large-scale study published on the long-term risks posed by omicron, the omicron variant is much less likely to produce long covid from the delta.
However, about 5% of people who take Omicron still experience fatigue, brain haze, headaches, heart problems or other health problems at least one month after being infected, the study found.
While some researchers have been able to reassure the results, others say the results are worrying, due to the fact that many people who have been exposed to Omicron and are apparently vaccinated are at risk.
“It’s scary,” said Dr. Akiko Yawasaki, an immunobiologist at the Yale School of Medicine, who studied covid for a long time but was not involved in the new study.
“People assume that because Omicron is light, you know, ‘Let’s get infected and get rid of it,'” Iwasaki said.
Results, published Thursday The LancetResearchers from King’s College London are tracking thousands of people who tested positive for coronavirus to determine the risk of long-term COVID in a variety of ways.
“The basic question we’re trying to answer is: ‘Is the long cove common in the delta era … [as it is] In the Omicron period? ” Said Dr. Claire Steves, who helped conduct the research.
The researchers compared 56,003 people between December 20, 2021 and March 9, 2022 with 41,361 people who had delta between June 1, 2021 and November 27, 2021 and tracked their symptoms using a special app.
Those who caught Omicron had about half the chance that those who got Delta would still have health problems a month later, the researchers found.
“Fortunately, with the Omicron variant, the risk of getting a long covid compared to the Delta variant is significantly reduced,” Steves told NPR in an interview. “That’s great news, isn’t it?”
This is especially good news because Omicron is so contagious that it has infected a huge number of people incredibly fast. If the risk was delta or higher, the number of people ending up with long covid would explode.
The results are consistent with a small analysis recently published by the British government.
However, low risk does not mean that people should not worry about the long cove because Omicron, Steves and others agree. According to the survey, the chances of getting a long covid from Omicron are 4.4% compared to about 10.8% from Delta.
“The caveat is that the Omicron variant has spread very quickly through our population, and so many more people have been infected. So overall, those who are going to get the long covid, sadly,” says Steve. No. “
But for anyone, the results indicate that the risk of both becoming seriously ill and developing persistent symptoms is very low.
This study did not mention why Amicron may pose a lower risk for long covid. But Steves and others say it implies that omikron leads to less frequent permanent symptoms because it does not make people as ill as Delta.
“Because of that low severity of the disease, and it seems to be a little more superficial in terms of the disease … it’s less affecting us in terms of the severity of our immune system,” Steves said. “And that’s why this leads to the low probability of long covid.”
Other researchers say that these results need to be confirmed by additional research.
Dr. Michael Snyler, who has been studying Covid for a long time at the National Institutes of Health, said: “They’ve only seen someone who mentioned symptoms in this app. .
But Snyler says it wouldn’t surprise her if Omicron is less likely to cause long covid because it seems to cause less serious illness.
Some researchers say they hope the results will correct the misconception that people don’t have to worry about long covids from Omicron.
“We’re saying, you know: ‘You can take off your mask on a plane. You don’t have to be vaccinated to get into a restaurant.’ All of these policy decisions will increase the risk of people becoming infected with COVID, although there is still a 5% chance of serious chronic illness, “said Dr. David Putrino, who has been treating COVID for a long time at Mount Sinai in New York City.” It’s going to create disabilities that didn’t need to exist. “