Long-lasting Covid affects one in 20 people more than six months after infection

A new longitudinal Covid study based on the experiences of nearly 100,000 participants provides strong evidence that many people do not fully recover months after contracting the coronavirus.

O Scottish studies Between six and 18 months after infection, 1 in 20 people have not recovered and 42% have partially recovered. There were reassuring aspects to the results: people with asymptomatic infections are unlikely to experience long-term effects, and the vaccine appears to offer some protection against long-term Covid illness.

What you need to know about long-term covid

“This is a well-conducted, population-based study that shows we should be very concerned about the current number of acute infections,” David Butrino, director of rehabilitation research at Mount Sinai Health System, said at New York. problem.”

Jill Bell, professor of public health at the University of Glasgow, who led the research, stressed that the study revealed the widespread and long-term impact of Covid on people’s lives. “In addition to health, there are many other impacts on quality of life, employment, education and the ability to care for oneself,” she said.

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The paper, published Wednesday in Nature Communications, represents the first results of a long-term Covid tracking study. Long CISS (Covid study in Scotland).

While the variety of reported symptoms and failure to provide a prognosis for patients has long puzzled Covid researchers, the scale of the challenge is clear. Between 7 million and 23 million Americans – including 1 million who can no longer work – suffer the long-term effects of infection with the virus. government assessments. This number is expected to increase due to Covid local disease.

Previous studies have been called into question by the nonspecific nature of long-term Covid symptoms, including shortness of breath and fatigue, which are also common in the general population. The Scottish Covid study, which included a control group, was able to identify which symptoms were linked to Covid, Bell said.

“People infected with Covid were more likely to have 24 of the 26 symptoms studied compared to the general population who had never been infected,” he said. For example, patients are 3.5 times more likely to develop dyspnea.

She went to a doctor, then another and another

Butrino pointed out that 16-31% of the control group had the same symptoms – similar to the false negative rate of the PCR test, suggesting that some members of the control group may have been infected. Bell acknowledged that some people who tested negative may have been infected, which helps bolster the study’s broader findings.

Symptoms of long carriers can vary from person to person. In the Scottish study, the most commonly reported symptoms were shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain and ‘brain fog’ or reduced mental acuity.

Symptoms were worse in people sick enough to be admitted to hospital with serious infections, which did little to allay experts’ concerns.

“People with chronic conditions are more likely to have long-term sequelae,” Butrino said. “What is alarming is that mild cases far outnumber severe cases, so even a small percentage of mild cases that develop long-term sequelae is a major public health concern.”

Butrino cautioned against assuming that asymptomatic infection is not associated with persistent symptoms.

“We’ve seen a lot of patients with a confirmed asymptomatic case,” he said. “Which will happen. It is statistically less common than those with symptomatic infection.

The study found that women, older people and people living in economically disadvantaged communities were more likely to have long-term exposure to Covid. People who already suffer from physical and mental health problems such as respiratory illnesses and depression also suffer from chronic Covid.

“Importantly, this study also identified a subgroup of 11% who got worse over time. This is something that is often seen in patient groups but not discussed enough in public conversations,” said Hannah Davies, a member of the Patient-Led Research Consortium, a patient group involved in researching long standing on covid.

Although the study revealed no particular surprises, its domestic design offers a new rigor, Bell said. More than 33,000 people with lab-confirmed infections participated, along with 62,957 people who were never infected.

During the pandemic, the president’s top medical adviser, Anthony S. American experts, including Fauci, continued to look to British data. It comes from a nationalized health system and reflects the evolution of the population as a whole.

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Using National Health Service records, the researchers texted all Scottish adults who tested positive for PCR and one group who tested negative for Covid, inviting them to participate. Those who chose to apply answered questions in an online survey about their health before and after infection.

“Having access to research data from such a large cohort is very powerful,” said James Harger, an immunologist at Imperial College London who studies the long-term impact of coronavirus on the lungs. American studies often rely on small numbers or use multiple studies to create meta-analyses, which have inherent flaws, Harker said.

According to Putrino, one of the questions that merits further study is the degree of protection provided by the vaccine. Recent studies show that the vaccine reduces the risk of developing Covid in the long term, but not as much as previously thought.

“That’s one of the most important things we have to figure out next,” Butrino said.

A University of Glasgow team led by Bell worked with Public Health Scotland, the Scottish National Health Service and the Universities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh, and was funded by the Scottish Government’s Office of Chief Scientist and public health in Scotland. .

researchers Schedule additional inspections accordingly Bell. The current study followed people six, 12 and 18 months after infection. Of those confirmed with Covid, 13% showed some improvement.

“We’re trying to take a closer look at changes in symptoms over time and the factors associated with them,” Bell said.

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