Long Covid 50% less likely after Omicron infection than Delta

Latest figures also show 1.8 million people in UK say they have the condition

It is still possible to suffer from long Covid even when fully vaccinated and infected with Omicron. Reuters
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The Omicron variant of Covid-19 is much less likely than Delta to result in long Covid in people who have had two doses of vaccine, new figures suggest.

Data shows the chances of double-vaccinated adults infected with the Omicron BA. 1 strain reporting having long Covid four to eight weeks later were about 50 per cent lower than those who had Delta.

The experimental statistics also suggest there is no evidence of a difference in risk of long Covid between first infections with Delta compared to the Omicron BA. 1 and BA. 2 variants among triple-vaccinated adults.

UK Office for National Statistics figures show that prevalence of self-reported long Covid for doubled-vaccinated adults infected with the Delta variant was 16 per cent, compared to 9 per cent for Omicron BA.1.

However, for triple-vaccinated adults the socio-demographically adjusted prevalence of self-reported long Covid was between 7 per cent and 9 per cent for the three variants.

But the ONS said the odds of adults who had three vaccine doses reporting long Covid symptoms, four to eight weeks after first being infected, were 22 per cent higher with the Omicron BA. 2 variant compared to the BA. 1 strain.

There was, however, no statistical evidence of a difference in the likelihood of activity-limiting long Covid between the Omicron BA. 1 and BA. 2 variants, it said.

"Among double-vaccinated, adult study participants, the socio-demographically adjusted prevalence of self-reported long Covid four to eight weeks after a first coronavirus (Covid-19) infection compatible with the Delta variant was 15.9 per cent. This is compared with 8.7 per cent for infections compatible with the Omicron BA. 1 variant," said the ONS.

"Among triple-vaccinated adults, there was no statistical evidence of a difference in the adjusted prevalence of self-reported long Covid between first infections compatible with the Delta variant and those compatible with either Omicron BA. 1 or Omicron BA.2.

"However, adjusted prevalence was higher for infections compatible with Omicron BA. 2 [9.3 per cent] than it was for those compatible with Omicron BA. 1 [7.8 per cent]."

Self-reported long Covid is defined as symptoms persisting for more than four weeks after a first suspected coronavirus infection that could not be explained by something else.

Long Covid affecting 1.8 million in UK

Separate figures from the ONS, also published on Friday, show an estimated 1.8 million people in the UK were likely to be experiencing symptoms of long Covid in the four weeks to April 3, the equivalent of 2.8 per cent of the population.

This is up from 1.7 million people a month earlier, and includes 791,000 people who first had Covid-19, or suspected they had the virus, at least one year ago ― the highest number so far.

Long Covid symptoms are estimated to be adversely affecting the day-to-day activities of 1.2 million people, about two-thirds of those with self-reported long Covid.

About 346,000 people (19 per cent) reported their ability to undertake day-to-day activities has been "limited a lot", the ONS said.

Fatigue continues to be the most common symptom ― experienced by 51 per cent of those with self-reported long Covid ― followed by shortness of breath (33 per cent), loss of smell (26 per cent) and then difficulty concentrating (23 per cent).

The ONS said prevalence of self-reported long Covid was greatest in people aged 35 to 49, females, people living in more deprived areas, those working in social care, teaching and education or health care, and those with another activity-limiting health condition or disability.

The ONS figures are based on self-reported long Covid from a representative sample of people in private households in the four weeks to April 3.

32% drop in weekly UK Covid infections

Further ONS figures showed an estimated two million people in private households in the UK had the virus in the week to April 30, or May 1 in Scotland, down 31 per cent from 2.9 million the previous week.

It is the biggest week-on-week drop since figures for all four nations were first reported at the beginning of November 2020.

This suggests about one in 35 people in England were infected, down from one in 25, representing the lowest level since the start of the year.

Wales has recorded a drop in infections for the third week in a row, with one in 25 thought to have the virus, down from one in 18.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, Covid-19 infections have fallen for the sixth successive week.

About one in 30 people are thought to have had the virus in the week to May 1, down from one in 25.

In Northern Ireland, the figure was one in 40, also down from one in 25.

Updated: May 07, 2022, 11:38 AM
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