New Study Suggests Different COVID-19 Variants Cause Different Long COVID Symptoms

New Study Suggests Different COVID-19 Variants Cause Different Long COVID Symptoms

According to a new study that will be presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Lisbon this month, the symptoms of long COVID one experiences actually depend on the SARS-CoV-2 variant they catch!

That’s right! It appears that different COVID variants cause different long COVID symptoms, something experts had not realized before.

But now, according to an early release by the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases about the study, Italian researchers have found that those infected with the alpha variant display neurological and emotional symptoms different from those infected with the initial form of SARS-CoV-2.

The research has been led by Dr. Michele Spinicci and her team from the University of Florence and Careggi University Hospital in Italy.

As for the way they tested this theory, the group of experts observed no less than 428 COVID-19 patients treated at the Careggi University Hospital between June of 2020 and June of 2021, a one year period during which both the original form of the virus and the alpha variant affected the population.

The release mentions that at least 76 percent (325) of the patients experienced at least one long-term symptom.

The most common were: chronic fatigue (36 percent), shortness of breath (37 percent) sleep problems (16 percent), visual problems (13 percent) and brain fog (13 percent.)

While further evaluating the long COVID symptoms, the scientists saw a significant difference in the cognitive/emotional issues reported by those infected between March and December of 2020 when the initial form of the virus was dominant compared to January – April of 2021 when the alpha variant was dominant.

More precisely, when alpha took over, muscle pain, brain fog, insomnia and anxiety/depression increased significantly while loss of taste and smell as well as hearing loss became less common.

In the release, Dr. Spinicci shared that “Many of the symptoms reported in the study have been measured, but it is the first time that they have been linked to different COVID variants. The long duration and the broad range of symptoms reminds us the problem isn’t going away, and we need to do more in order to support and protect these patients in the long run. Future research should focus on all the potential impacts of variants of concern and vaccination status on ongoing symptoms.”

At the same time, it’s important to acknowledge that the release also stressed: “The study was observational and doesn’t prove cause and effect, and they couldn’t confirm which variant of the virus caused the infection in different patients—which could limit the conclusions that can be drawn.”

Katherine Baldwin

Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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