Post-covid medical complaints following infection with SARS-CoV-2 Omicron vs Delta variants

Karin Magnusson*, Doris Tove Kristoffersen, Andrea Dell'Isola, Ali Kiadaliri, Aleksandra Turkiewicz, Jos Runhaar, Sita Bierma-Zeinstra, Martin Englund, Per Minor Magnus, Jonas Minet Kinge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant has been associated with less severe acute disease, however, concerns remain as to whether long-term complaints persist to a similar extent as for earlier variants. Studying 1 323 145 persons aged 18-70 years living in Norway with and without SARS-CoV-2 infection in a prospective cohort study, we found that individuals infected with Omicron had a similar risk of post-covid complaints (fatigue, cough, heart palpitations, shortness of breath and anxiety/depression) as individuals infected with Delta (B.1.617.2), from 14 to up to 126 days after testing positive, both in the acute (14 to 29 days), sub-acute (30 to 89 days) and chronic post-covid (≥90 days) phases. However, at ≥90 days after testing positive, individuals infected with Omicron had a lower risk of having any complaint (43 (95%CI = 14 to 72) fewer per 10,000), as well as a lower risk of musculoskeletal pain (23 (95%CI = 2-43) fewer per 10,000) than individuals infected with Delta. Our findings suggest that the acute and sub-acute burden of post-covid complaints on health services is similar for Omicron and Delta. The chronic burden may be lower for Omicron vs Delta when considering musculoskeletal pain, but not when considering other typical post-covid complaints.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7363
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
M.E. reported grants from The Swedish Research Council, grants from Österlund Foundation, grants from Governmental Funding of Clinical Research within National Health Service (ALF), grants from Greta and Johan Kock Foundations, grants from The Swedish Rheumatism Association, during the conduct of the study. The remaining authors declare no competing interests.

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Foundation for Research in Rheumatology (FOREUM—grant number 054), and by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (internal funding, no grant number available). The funding sources had neither influence on the design or conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, nor the interpretation of the data; preparation, review or approval of the manuscript; nor the decision to submit the manuscript for publication. We thank the Norwegian Directorate of Health, particularly Olav Isak Sjøflot and his Department of Health Registries for their cooperation in establishing the emergency preparedness register, and Gutorm Høgåsen and Anja Elsrud Schou Lindman for their invaluable work on the register. The interpretation and reporting of the data are the sole responsibility of the authors, and no endorsement by the register is intended or should be inferred. We also thank staff at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health who have been part of the outbreak investigation and response team.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


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