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Omicron might be less likely to cause long COVID

The omicron variant of coronavirus spreads more easily than earlier strains, including delta.

But new research the the journal The Lancet suggests omicron might have an upside: It’s less likely to cause long COVID-19.

Based on data from a symptom-study smartphone app, researchers at King's College London find omicron is 20-50% less likely than delta to cause long COVID, depending on age and time since last vaccination.

A comparison of adult cases when each of the two strains was dominant shows 4.4% of omicron patients had long COVID, compared to 10.8% of delta patients.

Nevertheless, the sheer number of omicron cases means the total population with long COVID was in fact higher during the omicron period.

Nicholas Gerbis was a senior field correspondent for KJZZ from 2016 to 2024.