Half of COVID patients have at least one symptom 2 years later: Study
- Six months after initially falling ill, 68% of participants reported at least one long COVID symptom
- Two years after initially falling sick, 31% of the patients reported fatigue or muscle weakness
- COVID patients were also more likely to report other symptoms including palpitations, joint pain
Two years after infection with COVID, half of patients admitted to hospital still have at least one symptom, according to the longest follow-up study to date, published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
The growing evidence shows that a large number of people who have recovered from COVID have long-term effects on multiple organs and systems, reported LiveMint. The study observed 1,192 participants in China who had been infected with the virus during the first wave in 2020.
While the physical and mental health of these participants generally improved over time, the analysis suggests that COVID patients still tend to have poorer health and quality of life than the general population. This is especially true for participants with long Covid, who typically continue to have at least one symptom, including fatigue, shortness of breath, and sleep difficulties two years after initially falling ill.
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“Our findings indicate that for a certain proportion of hospitalised Covid-19 survivors, while they may have cleared the initial infection, more than two years is needed to recover fully. Ongoing follow-up of Covid-19 survivors, particularly those with symptoms of long Covid, is essential to understand the longer course of the illness, as is further exploration of the benefits of rehabilitation programmes for recovery," said professor Bin Cao of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in China, and the lead author of the study, in a statement.
Six months after initially falling ill, 68% of participants reported at least one long COVID symptom. By two years after infection, reports of symptoms had dipped to 55%. Regardless of the severity of their initial illness, 89% of participants had returned to their original work at two years.
Two years after initially falling sick, 31% of the patients reported fatigue or muscle weakness and 31% reported sleeping difficulties, compared to 5% and 14%, respectively, among non-COVID participants. COVID patients were also more likely to report other symptoms including palpitations, joint pain, dizziness, and headaches.
The median age of the participants’ was 57, and more than half were men. In mental health questionnaires, 35 per cent reported pain or discomfort and 19 per cent reported anxiety or depression.