Over 76% Of COVID-19 Patients Report Persisting Symptoms 6 Months After Infection: Lancet study

The new study comprised of 1,733 COVID-19 patients who were released from Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan, China, between January 7th and May 29th 2020

Over three quarters of hospitalized COVID-19 patients have at least one ongoing symptom six months after getting infected by the virus, according to a new research published in The Lancet Journal that is based on the long term effects of the coronavirus infection.

The cohort study conducted on Covid-19 patients in Wuhan, China, reveals that the most common symptom to persist is fatigue or muscle weakness (63% of patients), with patients also frequently experiencing sleep difficulties (26%) even anxiety or depression was also reported among 23% of patients.

The study also found that patients who were severely ill in hospital more often had impaired lung function and several abnormalities were detected in chest imaging in six months after symptom onset, indicating organ damage.

The antibodies level of neutralizing fell by more than half (52.5%) after six months in 94 patients whose immune response was tested at the peak of the infection, raising concerns about the possibility of being re-infected by the virus.

However, little is known about the long-term health effects of COVID-19 as few follow-up studies have so far been approved so far. Those that have been conducted looked only at a small number of cases over a short follow up time (typically around three months after discharge).

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Professor Bin Cao, from National Center for Respiratory Medicine, China-Japan Friendship Hospital and Capital Medical University, said: “Because COVID-19 is such a new disease, we are only beginning to understand some of its long-term effects on patients’ health. 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. 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

The new study comprised of 1,733 COVID-19 patients who were released from Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan, China, between January 7th and May 29th 2020. Patients had a median age of 57 years. The median follow-up time was 186 days and the follow-up visits were done from June 16th to September 3rd, 2020.

A face-to-face interview of all the patients was conducted using questionnaires to evaluate their symptoms and health-related quality of life. They also underwent physical examinations, lab tests, and a six-minute walking test to measure patients’ endurance levels. Over 390 patients had did further tests, including an assessment of their lung function.

Along with that 94 patients whose blood antibody levels were recorded at the height of the infection as part of another trial received a follow-up test.

  • At follow-up, 76% of patients (1,265/1,655) reported at least one ongoing symptom.
  • Fatigue or muscle weakness was reported by 63% (1,038/1,655), while 26% (437/1,655) had sleep difficulties and 23% (367/1,733) experienced anxiety or depression.
  • Of the 390 patients who underwent additional testing, 349 completed the lung function test (41 were unable to complete the test due to poor compliance).
  • Patients with more severe illness commonly had decreased the lung function, with 56% (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.
  • For patients at severity scale 4 (who required oxygen therapy) and those at scale 3 (who did not require oxygen therapy) the figures were 29% (48/165) and 22% (18/83), respectively.
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