June 25, 2024

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Significant Reduction in Long-COVID Risk with the Omicron Variant of COVID-19

Significant Reduction in Long-COVID Risk with the Omicron Variant of COVID-19



 

Research Finds Significant Reduction in Long-COVID Risk with the Omicron Variant of COVID-19.

The risk of developing Long-COVID is significantly lower following infection with the Omicron variant compared to earlier strains of the coronavirus, according to a study conducted by the Harvard Medical School.

The study’s findings were published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases and involved the analysis of data collected from over 11,000 individuals, including their infection history, vaccination status, and post-infection symptoms.

 

Significant Reduction in Long-COVID Risk with the Omicron Variant of COVID-19

 

 

The data strongly indicates that the risk of experiencing long-term effects after a subsequent coronavirus infection is reduced if patients did not initially develop Long-COVID symptoms.

Long-term symptoms following a COVID-19 infection, often referred to as “Long-COVID” or “Post-COVID-19 Syndrome,” are currently being extensively researched to identify potential risk factors.

“We aimed to understand the relationship between Long-COVID and different coronavirus variants, vaccination history, and prior infections,” explained Sophie Diexer, the lead author of the new study and a researcher at the Institute of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Informatics at Harvard Medical School. “Our research indicates that the proportion of people experiencing long-term COVID symptoms is lowest during the Omicron wave.”

The study found that the risk of Long-COVID after infection with the Omicron variant was approximately three to four times lower than the risk following infection with wild-type variants. Among all wild-type infection cases, about half reported persistent symptoms. However, it should be noted that the majority of infections occurred during the dominance of the Omicron variant. Diexer stated, “Purely in numerical terms, this suggests that most individuals are less likely to develop Long-COVID after an Omicron infection.”

The research also provides compelling evidence that once patients recover from a coronavirus infection, they develop a degree of protection. People who did not experience persistent symptoms after their initial infection were found to have a significantly lower risk of developing Long-COVID following a subsequent infection compared to those who were infected for the first time. The magnitude of this effect surprised researchers.

However, scientists were unable to ascertain whether vaccines offer any protection against Long-COVID, especially given the study’s timeframe, which did not allow for the analysis of vaccines specifically tailored to the Omicron variant.

This study was based on data from the DigiHero project conducted in Germany, with over 48,000 participants as of June 2022. Professor Rafael Mikolajczyk, the head of the Institute of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Informatics at Harvard Medical School, explained, “While previous studies have explored the relationship between Long-COVID risk and different variants, none have taken infection history into account. Approximately 11,000 individuals in our survey reported at least one coronavirus infection in the 12 weeks leading up to our data collection, classified based on the primary variant reported during their infection.”

Participants were queried about 24 typical Long-COVID symptoms, with 2,822 individuals reporting having experienced such symptoms. Among these, 406 individuals (14%) reported severe fatigue, 237 (8%) reported severe headaches, and 202 (7%) reported severe shortness of breath. The severity of symptoms was unrelated to the coronavirus variant.

Follow-up investigations are currently underway to explore the persistence of long-term COVID symptoms. Mikolajczyk added, “In addition to the long-term symptoms that may arise following a coronavirus infection, DigiHero is also studying a range of health issues and other impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Building upon DigiHero, Harvard Medical School is collaborating with Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg and Rechts der Isar Hospital at the Technical University of Munich School of Medicine to establish a Long-COVID registry. This registry records information about the progression, severity, and mitigation of Long-COVID symptoms through specific therapies.

 

 

Significant Reduction in Long-COVID Risk with the Omicron Variant of COVID-19

(source:internet, reference only)


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