March 10, 2023 – Well being care staff contaminated with the COVID-19 Omicron variant had been far much less prone to expertise important lengthy COVID signs than those that contracted the unique SARS-CoV-2 virus, in line with new analysis out of Switzerland.

The outcomes, which might be introduced on the European Congress of Scientific Microbiology & Infectious Ailments convention in April and have been peer reviewed, confirmed that these contaminated with the unique, “wild-type” virus circulating within the early months of the pandemic nonetheless had persistent post-COVID signs 18 months later. On the identical time, a reinfection with Omicron amongst this group didn’t seem to extend their lengthy COVID dangers.

“In a younger and wholesome inhabitants, the danger of lengthy COVID after Omicron an infection, unbiased of vaccination standing, could be very low,” Philipp Kohler, MD, with the Cantonal Hospital St Gallen and principal investigator of the examine, says in an electronic mail. 

“These information recommend that the lengthy COVID wave after Omicron an infection is not going to be as devastating as has been feared by many.”

The most recent findings construct on earlier analysis, together with an article printed in The Lancet, that confirmed the danger of lengthy COVID was decrease with Omicron in contrast with the Delta variant. One other examine printed in Nature Communications evaluating the identical variants additionally noticed decrease dangers of long-term signs with Omicron 3 months after testing optimistic.

Within the Swiss examine, which has but to be submitted to a medical journal for publication, Kohler and his colleagues tracked 1,201 well being care staff from 9 home well being care networks. Their vaccination standing was tracked and signs had been in contrast with an uninfected management group.

“Adjusting for this ‘background noise’ is essential as a result of it permits to disentangle the impact of lengthy COVID from different circumstances, that are widespread within the normal inhabitants and which trigger related signs as lengthy COVID, similar to fatigue,” Kohler mentioned.

Well being care staff accomplished on-line questionnaires 3 times over the following 2 years to say in the event that they had been experiencing any lengthy COVID signs in addition to how dangerous their fatigue was. Eighteen signs had been lined, with lack of scent or style, tiredness and weak spot, burnout and exhaustion, and hair loss the most typical problem reported.

Within the examine, those that examined optimistic with the unique virus had a 67% larger threat of creating lengthy COVID signs when surveyed in March 2021 in contrast with the management group of members who remained uninfected. Whereas signs declined over time, they had been nonetheless current 18 months later.

In the meantime, the possibilities of creating lengthy COVID amongst staff whose first an infection was with Omicron didn’t seem like better than those that had by no means contracted COVID-19, researchers discovered. The members’ charges of fatigue had been additionally comparable between the contaminated and uninfected teams.

“We will solely speculate as to why this was,” Carol Strahm, MD, an infectious illness specialist and one of many researchers concerned within the examine, mentioned in an announcement. She added that it could possibly be resulting from Omicron being much less prone to trigger extreme sickness than the unique virus, in addition to immunity acquired by means of earlier publicity, together with asymptomatic infections that by no means resulted within the improvement of antibodies.

Kohler did notice that their pattern dimension was not very massive and that the group  studied will not be reflective of the broader normal inhabitants. Older people, these with different well being points, and the unvaccinated might not have the identical outcomes, he mentioned.

Linda Geng, MD, co-director of the Put up-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome Heart at Stanford College, who was not concerned within the Swiss examine, mentioned whereas there’s analysis suggesting that lengthy COVID dangers could also be decrease following infections with Omicron in contrast with earlier variants, she remains to be seeing many new sufferers.

“In our Lengthy COVID clinic, we nonetheless see loads of circumstances of lengthy COVID that developed after newer infections,” Geng, who can be a scientific assistant professor of medication with the college’s Major Care and Inhabitants Well being, says in an electronic mail.

“We additionally do not know what the longer term will maintain when it comes to the evolution of the virus and its impression on lengthy COVID threat. The one assure towards lengthy COVID is to not get COVID.” 

Going ahead, the Swiss workforce plans to proceed following up with members to see whether or not these contaminated with the unique pressure are nonetheless reporting signs almost three years later.

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