COVID-19 patients, who experience even the mildest illness, have symptoms for months, researchers in France found.
Two-thirds of patients with a mild to moderate case of Covid-19 reported symptoms 60 days after their illness, when more than a third still felt sick or were in worse condition than when they started their coronavirus infection. Prolonged symptoms were more likely in patients aged 40 to 60 and in hospitalized patients, according to staff at Tours University Hospital, who followed 150 non-critical patients from March to June.
Their study, published Monday in the journal Clinical Microbiology and Infection, found that some of the 35 million people known to be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus worldwide were weeks to months later will suffer from persistent effects. Post-Covid clinics will open after the pandemic to care for a growing number of so-called long-haul drivers – survivors with scarred lungs, chronic heart damage, post-viral fatigue, and other persistent, debilitating conditions.
“We were able to assess the development of the disease and show that even the mildest presentation was associated with medium-term symptoms that required follow-up care,” wrote Claudia Carvalho-Schneider and colleagues. “Thus, the Covid-19 pandemic will result in a long-term care burden long after its end.”
Two months after developing Covid-19 symptoms, 66% of adult patients said they had at least one in 62 complaints, mainly loss of smell and taste, shortness of breath and fatigue. The study attempted to determine the risk of longer symptom duration in patients with non-critical Covid-19, as much of the existing international research was based on survivors admitted to intensive care units.
Long-term studies and clinical trials will be critical to examining the persistence and depth of the health effects of Covid-19 and how it compares to other serious diseases, Carlos del Rio, Executive Associate Dean at Emory University School of Medicine, and colleagues wrote in an editorial Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association examining the ongoing effects of the coronavirus.
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