Just as we continue to learn about acute Covid-19 infections daily, we are also learning about the disease most commonly referred to as “long Covid”. Also called “Covid long-haul”, “Chronic Covid” and “Post-Acute Covid-19” were first identified in the months following the first wave of the pandemic. Some people who suffered from acute Covid-19 infections as early as March 2020 had persistent problems with fatigue, memory problems, ‘brain fog’, breathing problems and impaired smell or taste for weeks or months after infection. Some of these people, now more than two years after recovering from their illness, are still living with the effects of a long Covid.
Long Covid is now considered a disability under the ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act. If symptoms related to long Covid are impacting a person’s daily activities, they are entitled to the “same protections from discrimination as any other person with a disability under the ADA,” according to the Civil Rights Office of the Ministry of Health and Social Services. .
Just as different variants have been encountered different symptoms and the likelihood of severe illness, we are gradually understanding the risk of long Covid based on the variants we have seen so far. A study published in the June 18, 2022 issue of The Lancet assessed the likelihood of developing long Covid following infection with the SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) delta variant compared to the omicron variant. The work, which took place in the UK and was supported by the UK Department of Health, used self-reporting of post-Covid-19 symptoms in those who developed Covid-19 infections during the omicron flare, between December 2021 and March 2022. , compared to those who developed acute infections during the delta flare, between June 2021 and November 2021.
Long Covid is defined as “presenting with new or persistent symptoms 4 weeks or more after the onset of acute COVID-19” in this study and other studies and reports. All study subjects had been vaccinated against Covid-19, and the average age of study subjects was 53 years old. There were just over 56,000 enrolled as a result of omicron infections and just over 41,000 enrolled as a result of delta infections. Variants were presumed to be omicron or delta depending on the time of infection correlating with the variant prevalent at each given time period.
Of the subjects with omicron, 4.5% described long Covid symptoms, compared to 10.8% in the delta variant group. The timing of previous vaccination had no bearing on these differences.
As we continue to be immersed in the omicron surge, now that sub-variants continue to plague much of the world, it is likely that for a long time Covid will become more and more prevalent. While the overall percentage risk of long Covid is lower in omicron than in previous surges, the high absolute number of people with omicron infections will soon translate to an absolutely higher number of people with long Covid in the months and even years to come.
The number of people infected with omicron has already exceeded the number of people infected with all previous variants. And while many experience milder courses of illness, many others suffer severe illness, and many will sadly go on to develop long Covid.
#Long #Covid #Omicron