American research shows that 1 in 10 adults get COVID for a long time after omicron

A new study from the National Institutes of Health found that one in 10 people get long-term COVID after an omicron infection — a lower estimate than earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study — which involved nearly 10,000 American adults — was published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

It highlights a dozen symptoms that differentiate the long-term effects. Long COVID is broadly defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as signs, symptoms, and conditions that persist or develop after the initial COVID-19 infection. It is also referred to as long-haul COVID, post-acute COVID-19, chronic COVID, post-COVID conditions, and long-term effects of COVID.

The study compared more than 8,600 adults who had COVID-19 at various points in the pandemic with another 1,100 who were not infected.


This undated colored electron microscope image, made available by the US National Institutes of Health in February 2020, shows the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, indicated in yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, indicated in blue/pink, grown in a lab . The sample was isolated from a patient in the US. There is less risk of contracting lung COVID in the omicron era than in the earlier waves of the pandemic, according to a study of nearly 10,000 Americans that aims to help scientists better understand the mysterious condition. JAMA on Thursday, May 25, 2023. (NIAID-RML via AP)

About one in three COVID-19 patients have experienced long-term COVID, which was similar to study participants who reported being sick before Omicron began widespread circulation in the US more than two years ago.

Notably, that was also when the study opened, and researchers pointed out that people who already had long-term COVID symptoms were more likely to participate.

This colorized electron microscope image, made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in November 2022, shows cells, indicated in purple, infected with the omicron strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, orange, isolated from a patient sample captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland. (NIAID/NIH via AP)

Conversely, about 2,230 patients had their first infection after the study started, allowing them to report symptoms in real time.

Only about 10% experienced long-lasting symptoms after six months.


While millions of people around the world have long had COVID, the symptoms vary and scientists still don’t know what causes it, why only a few people get it, and even how best to diagnose it.

The study focused on a dozen symptoms, including fatigue, brain fog, dizziness, gastrointestinal symptoms, palpitations, sexual problems, loss of smell or taste, thirst, chronic cough, chest pain, worsening of symptoms after activity and abnormal movements.

The COVID-19 test line wrapped around the block at Long Beach City College’s PCH campus according to social media and yard workers on Dec. 27, 2021. (Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images)

Others shared by the CDC include fever, difficulty breathing and concentrating, headache, trouble sleeping, tingling, dizziness when standing up, depression or anxiety, joint or muscle pain, rash, and changes in menstrual cycle.


The study authors assigned scores to the symptoms, hoping to establish a threshold, though one doctor stressed that medical professionals should not use the list to diagnose someone with long-term COVID.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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