Three-quarters of Covid-19 patients still have at least one symptom six months after first falling ill, researchers who followed hospital patients in China reported Friday. The new findings suggest symptoms linger longer and in a higher proportion of patients than previously thought.
The largest and longest analysis to date of post-Covid recovery also warns that some patients’ antibody levels fell sharply, raising concern that while waiting for a return to full health, they could be reinfected with the coronavirus.
Almost two-thirds of the patients said they were still suffering from fatigue and muscle weakness, the researchers wrote in The Lancet. A little over a quarter had difficulty sleeping, and a little under a quarter experienced anxiety and depression. Overall, more women than men reported lingering symptoms, and people whose disease was more severe had poorer lung health. Their median age was 57.
Earlier studies looking at Covid-19 “long haulers,” the term for people whose well-being does not return after their infections clear, had been limited by time and numbers of cases. A July estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 1 in 3 people still have symptoms that linger for two or three weeks. A survey conducted in the U.K. concluded in November that 1 in 5 people suffered from symptoms lasting five weeks or longer; 1 in 10 said their problems lasted 12 weeks or longer.
The larger number of patients studied in China, where the pandemic first unfolded, and the higher proportion of people experiencing difficulties for a longer time paint a picture of problems that aren’t going away. [Continue reading…]