‘Long COVID’: More than 25% of COVID-19 patients still have symptoms after 6 months

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In a new study from the University of Zurich, researchers examined adults from the general population who were infected with COVID-19 in 2020.

They found more than a quarter report not having fully recovered after six to eight months.

While initial public health responses to the SARS-CoV-2 virus focused on reducing the acute burden of COVID-19, a growing body of evidence indicates that the infection can also result in longer-term physical and mental health consequences.

These long-term consequences, currently referred to as “post-COVID-19 syndrome” or “Long COVID” are of increasing concern for healthcare systems.

In the study, researchers tested 431 participants. All people had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 between February and August 2020, and completed an online questionnaire about their health about 7 months after their diagnosis.

Symptoms had been present at diagnosis in 89% of the participants and 19% were initially hospitalized.

The team found overall, 26% of participants reported that they had not fully recovered at six to eight months after initial COVID-19 diagnosis.

About 55% reported symptoms of fatigue, 25% had some degree of shortness of breath, and 26% had symptoms of depression.

A higher percentage of females and initially hospitalized patients reported not having recovered compared to males and non-hospitalized individuals.

A total of 40% of participants reported at least one general practitioner visit related to COVID-19 after their acute illness.

The findings showed that 26% did not fully recover within 6-8 months after diagnosis and 40% had at least one further healthcare contact related to COVID-19.

They underline the need for the timely planning of healthcare resources and services tailored to the needs of individuals suffering from post-COVID-19 syndrome.

The study is published in PLOS ONE. One author of the study is Milo Puhan.

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