COVID-19 symptoms often linger 6 months or more, study finds

 

More than three quarters (76.5%) of 1,655 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Wuhan, China, had at least one symptom 6 months after discharge, reports a Lancet study published late last week.

The most common self-reported symptoms were fatigue or muscle weakness (62.7%) and sleeping difficulties (26.4%), and physical exam follow-ups also showed lung diffusion impairment—which indicates poor oxygen exchange—in 34.1% of patients.

“Because COVID-19 is such a new disease, we are only beginning to understand some of its long-term effects on patients’ health,” says senior author Bin Cao, MD, in a Lancet press release. “Our analysis indicates that most patients continue to live with at least some of the effects of the virus after leaving hospital, and highlights a need for post-discharge care, particularly for those who experience severe infections.”

Lungs not recovered, antibodies waned

Study participants were discharged from the hospital from Jan 7 to May 29, 2020, and the researchers followed-up a median of 186 days (more than 6 months) later, from Jun 16 to Sep 3. Out of 1,733 people in the cohort, 1,172 (67.6%) needed oxygen therapy, 122 (7.0%) needed ventilation or a similar procedure, and 76 (4.4%) were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).

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