By Express News Service

BENGALURU: Those who had contracted the Omicron variant of Covid-19 may develop Long Covid less frequently than those who had other variants, authors of a new study out of Japan concluded. However, anecdotal findings of doctors in Karnataka are mixed. While some patients did report Long Covid symptoms, doctors say a majority had symptoms like hair loss, depression, brain fog, anxiety etc, but did not have many respiratory related symptoms as in post-Delta infection. 

Dr Satyanarayana Mysore, HoD and Consultant, Pulmonology, Lung Transplant Physician, Manipal Hospital, says, “The established fact and our observation is that people who developed Omicron did have different sets of Long Covid symptoms which range from cough, feverishness and day time sleepiness. We did not find Omicron give rise to less Long Covid by definition.” 

The study, published in journal preprint server medRxiv, reviewed and approved by the ethics committee of the Center Hospital of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine, said it represents first time epidemiological data on Long Covid in Omicron patients. But more research is needed to see if findings are applicable to Omicron patients as a whole, and to determine the long-term impact of the variant “on health-related quality of life and social productivity”, the paper stated.

Dr Sunil Kumar K, Lead and Sr Consultant, Interventional Pulmonology, Aster CMI Hospital, said during the second wave, patients suffered post-viral bronchitis and complained of dry cough and throat discomfort post recovery. He explains, “Post-Covid symptoms can manifest, no matter which variant it is. However, the incidence of post-Covid symptoms caused by Omicron does not seem to cause a high or persistent rise in inflammatory markers in the body during infection.

Depending on the severity of the virus, Long Covid symptoms are likely to increase. As Omicron was less severe, we are seeing fewer people with post-Covid symptoms.” According to doctors, some Long Covid symptoms included fatigue, difficulty in breathing, cough, hair loss, depression, brain fog, difficulty in concentrating and memory issues. Dr Mahesh Gowda, Director, Spandana Hospitals, said, “Post Omicron, there have been patients with symptoms of prolonged depression, anxiety and brain fog. However, some of these symptoms were part of Delta infections too.” 

Meanwhile, agreeing that there are not as many long covid cases as earlier Dr Shalini Joshi, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospitals says, "We saw many cases of Omicron since January but we have seen very few patients coming in for long covid symptoms."

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