Covid-19: Over 75 per cent of survivors face atleast one prolonged symptom six months after infection

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on January 10, 2021

Representative image   -  PTI

Study reveals patients with more severe illness commonly had reduced lung function

A recently published Lancet study revealed that more than three-quarters of coronavirus patients have at least one ongoing symptom six months after the infection.

For the study, the researchers included 1,733 Covid-19 patients who were discharged from Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan, China, between January 7 and May 29, 2020. Follow-ups were carried out in September 2020.

The cohort study was carried out to look at the long-term effects of Covid-19 infection on people hospitalised in Wuhan, China. It found that the most common symptom to persist is fatigue or muscle weakness (63 per cent of patients), with patients also frequently experiencing sleep difficulties (26 per cent). Anxiety or depression was reported among 23 per cent of patients.

Patients, who were severely ill in the hospital, more often had impaired lung function and abnormalities detected in chest imaging - which could indicate organ damage - six months after symptom onset.

Levels of neutralising antibodies fell by more than half (52.5 per cent) after six months in 94 patients whose immune response was tested at the peak of the infection.

Professor Bin Cao, from National Center for Respiratory Medicine, China-Japan Friendship Hospital and Capital Medical University, said, "Our analysis indicates that most patients continue to live with at least some of the effects of the virus after leaving the hospital, and highlights a need for post-discharge care, particularly for those who experience severe infections.”

He added, “Our work also underscores the importance of conducting longer follow-up studies in larger populations in order to understand the full spectrum of effects that Covid-19 can have on people."

The study revealed that patients with more severe illness commonly had reduced lung function, with 56 per cent (48/86) of those at severity scale 5-6 (who required ventilation) experiencing diffusion impairment - reduced flow of oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream.

Patients with more severe disease performed worse in the six-minute walking test (which measures the distance covered in six minutes), with 29 per cent of those at severity scale 5-6 walking less than the lower limit of the normal range, compared with 24 per cent for those at scale 3, and 22 per cent for scale 4.

The authors also mentioned that some patients went on to develop kidney problems post-Covid-19 discharge.

Published on January 10, 2021

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