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San Diego doctors say more data needed to determine possibility, severity of omicron long-haul COVID

Posted at 7:01 AM, Jan 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-28 10:01:24-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Despite the appearance of what could be a downward trend, San Diego County continues to see new reported cases of COVID-19 due to the omicron variant surge.

According to county health officials 60,548 cases were reported between Jan. 19-25. In comparison, there were 69,151 COVID-19 infections reported from Jan. 12-18.

As many anxiously wait for the surge to peak, some wonder about what the future holds with the omicron variant.

"We're still dealing with the coronavirus. So, even though this is less symptoms clinically, it doesn't mean that it doesn't have long-term hauler symptoms,” said Dr. Kaveh Bahmanpour with Sharp Community Medical Group.

Bahmanpour said it could take some time to figure out the possibility and/or the severity of omicron long-haulers.

"So far, we haven't seen that many side effects or long haulers because it's just been four to six weeks,” Bahmanpour said. "I think this is not as bad as delta. I'm hoping we don't see long-haulers. But honestly, it's hard to predict."

The CDC says long-haul COVID can happen even if someone has mild symptoms or is asymptomatic with the virus. The agency’s website stated that symptoms with long-haul COVID that were reported included:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental activities (also known as post-exertional malaise)
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
  • Cough
  • Chest or stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Pins-and-needles feeling
  • Diarrhea
  • Sleep problems
  • Fever
  • Dizziness on standing (light headedness)
  • Rash
  • Mood changes
  • Change in smell or taste
  • Changes in menstrual period cycles

Others in the local medical community also said it's too early to figure out if omicron's long-hauler symptoms will be worse than previous variants.
"It's yet to be determined whether omicron leads to less long-haulers than delta. I think that's what something we can't say,” said Dr. William Tseng with Kaiser Permanente San Diego. “But we know what every single variant of COVID so far has caused; has a percentage of long-haulers. And it can be up to 20 or 30 percent in some cases."

More time and data are needed to help predict what's to come. Until that happens, the advice is more of the same.

"The only thing I can say is let just make sure we continue to vaccinate, boost, take like precautions, wear masks; all of those things we're already doing. Keep doing it and hopefully we can prevent those outcomes,” Bahmanpour said.