What’s believed to be the world’s longest-running study on Covid patients has found troubling results—most people infected with Covid-19 had lingering symptoms a year after the initial infection, and “long Covid” symptoms showed little improvement over time.
The study from a team of German researchers that appeared in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal found 77.1% of Covid patients still had symptoms a year after they were infected.
The most commonly reported symptoms one year out were reduced exercise capacity (56.3%), followed by fatigue (53.1%) and concentration problems (39.6%).
Researchers found only one symptom—hair loss—decreased significantly between five and 12 months, with the frequency dropping from 26.1% to 10.4%.
Alarmingly, the rate of dyspnea—or shortness of breath—spiked from 27.1% at five months to 37.5% at 12, while fatigue rose from 41.7% to 53.1%.
The survey group was limited, since it only contained 96 people who had been treated at University Hospital Heidelberg facilities in the spring of 2020, with 32.3% requiring in-patient care—a much higher rate than the population as a whole.
Researchers also acknowledged some of the neurological issues could have been influenced by prolonged lockdowns.
“Neurocognitive long COVID symptoms can persist at least for one year after COVID-19 symptom onset, and reduce life quality significantly,” the researchers said.
Though none appear to have surveyed as long a period as the German research, study after study has shown many who had Covid-19 will experience “long Covid” symptoms months after being infected. Those studies have largely found the same symptoms persisting, with women being affected at higher rates than men. More severe cases of Covid are also associated with “long Covid” symptoms. An Italian study from last year found 87.4% of patients discharged from hospitals still had symptoms two months after their release, with another study last fall from University College London finding about 70% of hospitalized patients dealt with “long Covid” after being discharged. But a large-scale British survey released in the spring of 2021 found the rate appears much lower in the general population. The British Office for National Statistics survey polled more than 20,000 people who tested positive for Covid-19, and found 13.7% still reported symptoms 12 weeks after their initial infection.
Over 185 million. That’s how many Covid-19 cases have been reported worldwide throughout the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 4 million people have died.
Study Confirms Existence Of ‘Long Covid,’ With 7 In 10 Patients Experiencing Debilitating Symptoms Weeks After Hospital Discharge (Forbes)
How Common Is ‘Long Covid’? New Studies Suggest More Than Previously Thought (Forbes)