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New research: Half of Covid-19 patients still have at least one symptom 2 years later

Six months after initially falling ill, 68% of participants reported at least one long Covid symptom.

A Covid-19 infected patient is shifted at Civil hospital in Asarwa. (Express Photo: Nirmal Harindran, File)

Two years after infection with Covid-19, 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 study followed 1,192 participants in China who had been infected with SARS-CoV-2 during the first wave in 2020. While physical and mental health generally improved over time, the analysis suggests that Covid-19 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.

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 fallen 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 ill, 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 joint pain, palpitations, dizziness, and headaches.

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Around half the study participants had symptoms of long Covid at two years, and reported lower quality of life than those without long Covid. In quality of life questionnaires, Covid patients more often reported pain or discomfort (23%) and anxiety or depression (12%) than non-Covid participants (5% in both).

Mental health assessments of long Covid participants found 13% displayed symptoms of anxiety and 11% displayed symptoms of depression, while for non-long Covid participants the proportions were 3% and 1% respectively.

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First published on: 12-05-2022 at 04:00:28 am
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