Long Covid, at least one symptom in over half of the patients two years after hospitalization –

from Cristina Marrone

The Lancet study boasts the longest follow-up ever. Fatigue and muscle weakness are the most frequent symptoms. At six months, 68% of patients still have aftermath

Two years after Covid-19 infection, half of the patients who were hospitalized at the time still have at least one symptom. This is suggested by a study just published in “The Lancet Respiratory Medicine” which has followed patients since the beginning of the pandemic and therefore represents the research with the longest follow-up to date published.

The study followed 1,192 patients in China infected with Sars-Cov-2 during the first phase of the pandemic in 2020 and hospitalized in Wuhan, the epicenter of the pandemic, between 7 January and 29 May 2020. All volunteers were visited 6 months, one year and two years after their discharge.

Covid worsens health

Although physical and mental health have generally improved over time, the analysis suggests that Covid-19 patients still tend to still have a spoorer health and quality of life than the general population. This is especially true for patients with long Covid, who typically still have at least one symptom of the disease including fatigue, shortness of breath and difficulty sleeping even two years after becoming illie it can take a long time to recover. In detail i improvements were seen regardless of the initial severity of the disease: while six months after recovery, 68% of patients reported at least one symptom, the percentage dropped to 55% after two years. Still high numbers for the truth that should warn health systems around the world for the number of patients they will have to take care of.

Understanding the long-term course of the disease

The lead author of the study, Professor Bin Cao, of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, in China, says: “Our findings indicate that for a certain percentage of Covid-19 survivors admitted to hospital, it takes more than two years to fully recover. Continuous follow-up of Covid-19 survivors, particularly those with long Covid symptoms, is essential to understand the long-term course of the disease, as well as to better analyze the benefits of rehabilitation programs. There is a clear need to provide ongoing support to a significant percentage of people who have had Covid-19 and to understand how vaccines, emerging treatments and variants affect long-term health outcomes. ”

The difficulties of follow-ups

The long-term health impacts of Covid-19 have remained largely unknown, as the longest follow-up studies to date have lasted around a year. Furthermore, the lack of baseline pre-Covid-19 health status values ​​and comparisons with the general population in most studies also made it difficult to determine how well Covid-19 patients recovered. to analyze the long-term health outcomes of hospitalized Covid-19 survivors, as well as the specific health impacts of long Covid.

How the evaluations were done

The ratings resulted six-minute walking exercises, laboratory tests and questionnaires on symptoms, mental health, health-related quality of life, return to work and use of health care after hospital discharge. The negative effects of long Covid on quality of life, exercise capacity, mental health and health care use were determined by comparing patients undergoing the study with and without symptoms of long Covid. The two-year health outcomes were determined using a control group of people with no history of Covid-19 infection matched for age, gender, and comorbidities.


The median age of the participants was 57, and 54% were men. Six months after getting sick, 68% of study participants reported at least one symptom of long Covid. Within two years of infection, symptom reports had dropped to 55%. Muscle fatigue or weakness were the most frequently reported symptoms and I’m dropped from 52% at six months to 30% at two years. Regardless of the severity of the initial illness, 89% of the participants had returned to their original job after two years.

Two years after getting sick, patients who have had Covid-19 are generally in worse health than the general population, with 31% reporting muscle fatigue or weakness and another 31% reporting sleep difficulties. The percentage of participants who had not had Covid-19 reporting these symptoms was 5 and 14 percent, respectively. Patients who had had Covid were also more likely to report a number of other symptoms including joint pain, palpitations, dizziness and headache.

In quality of life questionnaires, Covid-19 patients reported even more often pain or discomfort (23%) and anxiety or depression (12%) compared with participants in the control group (5% and 5%, respectively).

In mental health questionnaires, 35% reported pain or discomfort and 19% reported anxiety or depression. Participants who suffered from long Covid also reported more often problems with their mobility (5%) or activity levels compared to the control group (1%).

Limits and merits

The authors recognize the limitations of the study. Without a control group of in-hospital survivors unrelated to Covid-19 infection, it is difficult to determine whether the observed abnormalities are disease-specific. In addition, some measurements of the consequences of Covid, including those on employment status and health care use after discharge, were not made in all visits, which means that only one is possible.‘partial analysis of long-term impacts based on these results.

However, the research has the merit of not being based exclusively on questionnaires (tests were performed) and of having followed patients for a very long period, two years, which has never been done before. It is evident that the patients had been infected with the original Whuan strain or with the very first circulating variants that differed little from the first Sars-CoV-2. It is still unclear today whether the most recent variants have such an important impact on long-Covid.

May 12, 2022 (change May 12, 2022 | 05:46)

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