According to the findings of a study that involved tens of thousands of people living in Scotland, one in twenty people who had been ill with Covid reported that they did not recover at all, and another four in ten people said that they had not fully recovered from their infections many months later.
The authors of the research that was published on Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications attempted to zero in on the long-term hazards of Covid by comparing the frequency of symptoms in those who had previously been diagnosed with Covid versus those who had not previously been diagnosed with Covid.
The research found that people who had previously experienced symptomatic Covid infections reported certain persistent symptoms at a rate that was approximately three times as high as uninfected people in surveys carried out between six and 18 months later. These symptoms included shortness of breath, palpitations, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. These individuals also had an increased risk of more than twenty additional symptoms, including those related to the heart, respiratory system, muscular pains, mental health, and the sensory system.
In addition to presenting some encouraging information, the research results bolstered the recommendations made by experts for more broad treatment choices for long-term COVID patients in the United States and internationally.
According to the findings of the research, patients with asymptomatic coronavirus infections did not have an increased risk of developing long-term complications. It was also found, in a much smaller subset of participants who had been given at least one dose of Covid vaccine prior to their infections, that vaccination appeared to help reduce, if not entirely eliminate, the risk of some long-term Covid symptoms. This was found in the study of participants who had received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Jill Pell, a professor of public health at the University of Glasgow who led the research and said the findings reinforced the importance of long-term Covid patients being offered support that extends beyond health care and also addresses needs related to jobs, education, poverty, and disability, she said that the findings of the research.
The term “long covid” refers to a group of symptoms that might continue to affect individuals for many months or even longer following an infection. As the number of instances of Covid skyrocketed over the last year and health care systems become more adept at properly managing the early stages of an infection, researchers have focused more of their efforts on better comprehending the terrifying consequences.
According to estimates provided by the United States government, the number of persons living in the United States who have lengthy COVID might range anywhere from 7.7 million to 23 million.
In a piece that was published on Wednesday in The Guardian, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, said that “the disease is ruining people’s lives and livelihoods” around the globe. He issued a plea to all nations, saying that “prompt and sustained action appropriate to its size” should be taken.
The researchers that carried out the study in Scotland followed up with 63,000 individuals who had never been diagnosed with Covid as well as 33,000 individuals who had tested positive for the virus beginning in April 2020. Those individuals were questioned every six months on any symptoms they were experiencing, including fatigue, chest discomfort, muscular pains, and neurological disorders, as well as any difficulty they were having with day-to-day activities.
The researchers tried to overcome a challenge that many other long-term Covid researchers have encountered. That challenge was how to ascribe less specific symptoms to Covid when those problems are also common in the general population and may be prevalent in the midst of a pandemic. The researchers tried to overcome this challenge by comparing the frequency of those problems with infected and uninfected people.
According to the findings of the research, between one-fifth and one-third of the subjects who had never been infected with the long Covid virus also reported experiencing many of the most typical symptoms associated with the infection. However, symptoms were much more prevalent in individuals who had previously had Covid: Those participants were more likely to report 24 of the 26 symptoms that were recorded by the research. Symptoms were significantly more common in persons who had previously had Covid.
The most recent follow-up poll of people who have had past occurrences of Covid found that 6% of those people said that they had not recovered at all, while 42% reported that they had just partially recovered.
According to Dr. Pell, she was still doing research on the progression of long-term Covid symptoms over the course of months and years after an infection. However, the current research shed some light on that topic in a limited way. In one group of previously infected patients, around 13 percent of individuals reported that their symptoms had improved over the course of time, whereas approximately 11 percent said that they had worsened.
Women, the elderly, and persons living in more impoverished regions were at a greater risk of experiencing more severe aftereffects from an infection. Those who already suffered from a variety of health conditions, such as depression and respiratory diseases, performed similarly poorly.
Since almost nine out of ten people who took part in the trial were white, it is impossible to identify how and why the hazards of long-term exposure to Covid may have varied across racial and ethnic groups.
According to the findings of scientists, significantly more resources were required to treat patients suffering from an earlier coronavirus infection than were necessary for health systems that were still working to recover from recent surges of COVID while also facing an onslaught of patients with the flu and other respiratory illnesses.