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Can you get long COVID symptoms after infection with the Omicron variant?


It’s too early to know for sure, but many doctors believe it’s possible to have long-term effects from the Omicron variant of the virus.

Long COVID is usually diagnosed many weeks after a bout with COVID-19.

Any long-lasting effects typically appear about 90 days after symptoms of the initial infection go away, Maria Van Kerkhove of the World Health Organisation said this week.
Woman COVID test
Many doctors believe it’s possible to have long-term effects from the Omicron variant of the virus. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Overall, some estimates suggest more than a third of COVID-19 survivors will develop some symptoms of long COVID.

Symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, anxiety and other problems.

The lingering illness is more likely if you’ve been hospitalised with COVID-19, but research shows it can happen even after a mild infection.

Omicron began its race around the world late last year.

The variant generally causes milder illness than the Delta version of the coronavirus, but has still overwhelmed hospitals.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 21: A COVID-19 testing clinic sign at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on January 21, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. NSW has recorded 46 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, marking the deadliest day in the state since the start of the pandemic. NSW also recorded 25,168 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hour reporting period. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

Your COVID-19 questions answered

Van Kerkhove said she hasn’t seen any research indicating that the portion of COVID-19 survivors who get long COVID will change with the Omicron variant.

Dr Linda Geng of Stanford University, who co-directs one of the many clinics specialising in long COVID, said that though she can’t say for sure, a new wave of patients is likely.

“We have to be very cautious and very careful and prepared,” Geng said.

In the meantime, scientists are racing to figure out what’s behind the mysterious condition. Some theories? It may be an autoimmune disorder.

Long COVID is more likely if the person was hospitalised with COVID-19. (The Age)

Tiny microclots may be causing the disabling symptoms. Or perhaps latent viruses in the body have been reactivated.

Scientists are also looking at whether vaccines could be part of the answer.

A Yale University team is studying the possibility that vaccination might reduce long COVID symptoms.

And two other studies offer early evidence that being vaccinated before getting COVID-19 could help prevent the lingering illness or at least reduce its severity.

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