Most patients have at least one symptom 6 months after infection

Most patients have at least one symptom 6 months after infection

More than three-quarters of people hospitalized with COVID-19 still suffered from at least one symptom six months after falling ill, according to a study released on Saturday that highlights the need for more research into the lingering effects of the coronavirus.

• Read also: All developments in the COVID-19 pandemic

Fatigue or muscle weakness are the most common symptoms. Sleep disturbances, anxiety or depression were also noted, according to the study, published in the journal The Lancet, including more than a thousand patients from the Chinese city of Wuhan.

In addition, some patients have developed kidney problems after discharge from the hospital.

The patients who were the most severely ill in hospital more often had impaired lung function and abnormalities detected on chest imaging.

“Because COVID-19 is a new disease, we are only beginning to understand some of its long-term effects on the health of patients,” comments lead author Professor Bin Cao of the National Center for Respiratory Medicine. This work highlights the need for post-discharge care, especially for patients with severe infections.

“Our work also highlights the importance of conducting longer follow-up studies in larger populations to understand the full spectrum of effects COVID-19 can have on people,” he added.

Most patients have at least one symptom 6 months after infection

Serious persistent effects

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the virus poses a risk of lasting serious effects in some people, even in otherwise healthy young people who have not been hospitalized.

The study included 1,733 COVID-19 patients, averaging 57 years old, discharged from Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan between January and May 2020. They had a medical examination between June and September and responded to questions about their symptoms and quality of life. Laboratory tests were also carried out.

According to the study, 76% of patients who participated in the follow-up (1,265 of 1,655) said they still had symptoms.

Fatigue or muscle weakness was reported by 63% of them, while 26% had problems sleeping.

The study also included 94 patients whose blood antibody levels were recorded at the height of the infection. Six months later, their levels of neutralizing antibodies against the virus had dropped by more than half.

In a commentary published in The Lancet, Monica Cortinovis, Norberto Perico and Giuseppe Remuzzi, from the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research (Italy), underline the uncertainty about the long-term consequences of the pandemic on health.

Longer-term multidisciplinary research, such as that conducted in the United States and Great Britain, should help improve understanding and develop therapies to “mitigate the long-term consequences of COVID-19 on multiple organs and fabrics ”.

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