Risk of Long COVID associated with Delta vs Omicron

The Lancet: Correspondence

Work supported by the UK department of Health; Research team based at Kings College, London, UK.
The findings in a nutshell
  • Omicron appears to cause less severe acute illness than previous variants, at least in vaccinated populations
  • However, the potential for large numbers of people to experience long-term symptoms is a major concern
  • Omicron COVID cases were less likely to experience Long COVID than Delta cases (for all vaccine timings)
  • Overall, the study found a reduction in odds of Long COVID with the Omicron variant versus the Delta variant of 0·24–0·50 depending on age and time since vaccination
Overview of the paper

The Omicron variant of COVID spread rapidly across the world from November 2021. The number of cases reported in Europe (as per a global COVID database) in a 4-month period from December 2021 to March 2022 far exceeded all previously reported cases. This observational study set out to identify the relative odds of Long COVID (new or ongoing symptoms 4 weeks or more after the start of acute COVID-19) during the Omicron stage compared with the Delta period. Data were collected via health surveillance measures following positive COVID diagnoses using smartphone apps (self-reported). Samples were all vaccinated prior to testing positive to COVID and included 40,000 individuals meeting the inclusion criteria for each group / period. Statistics adjusted for factors across the groups that are known to affect the risk of Long COVID.

Implications for Australian workplaces

Due to the rapid spread of Omicron, health and workforce planners need to be mindful and ready to act to ensure adequate resource allocation. The full impact of the Omicron wave on the health of the Australian population in terms of developing Long COVID has not yet been realised.

To find out more about Risk of Long COVID associated with Delta vs Omicron read the full article here.

Date published: 9 June 2022

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