Scientists confirm long-term health impact of COVID-19

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Many people recover fully within a few days or weeks after being infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

But others have symptoms that linger for weeks, months or even years after their initial diagnosis.

In a study from the University of Glasgow, scientists found that 1 in 20 people who took part in the research had not recovered from having COVID-19 at their most recent follow-up—between six and 18 months following infection with SARS-CoV-2.

This is one of the largest studies to date into the long-term effects of COVID-19, the Long-CISS (COVID In Scotland Study)

The study used a Scottish population cohort of 33,281 laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections, matched with 62,957 never-infected people from the general population, with both groups followed-up via six, 12 and 18-month questionnaires, with researchers able to link to hospitalization and death records.

The first set of results found that, overall, 42% of people infected with COVID-19 reported feeling only partially recovered between six- and 18 months following infection.

Details of each person’s partial recovery were not given in the survey but could include a range of symptoms from mild to moderate and may not necessarily result in a long COVID diagnosis.

Reassuringly, the team found that those with asymptomatic infection had no long-term impact.

People who had been vaccinated prior to infection with COVID-19 appeared to have protection from some long-term symptoms.

However, the study found that the impact on people with long COVID was wide-reaching, with a wide range of symptoms, impacts on all aspects of daily life, and reduced overall quality of life.

Overall, the study found that long COVID symptoms were more likely following severe infections requiring hospitalization.

The most reported long COVID symptoms included breathlessness, chest pain, palpitations, and confusion, or ‘brain fog’.

Long COVID was also more likely in individuals who were older, female, and those from deprived communities.

In addition, those with pre-existing physical and mental health problems, such as respiratory disease and depression, were also more likely to experience long COVID.

The study found that while recovery status remained constant over the follow-up period for most participants, 13% of people reported improvement over time and 11% reported some deterioration.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about face masks that can capture and deactivate the COVID-19 virus, and this drug combo may treat COVID-19 effectively.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about antibodies that block all the COVID-19 variants, and results showing flu and COVID-19 vaccines may increase heart disease risk.

The study was conducted by Professor Jill Pell et al and published in Nature Communications.

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