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Covid-19 patients likely to experience symptoms for 6 months post recovery: Lancet study

Published on:11 January 2021, 19:47pm IST
Just testing negative for covid-19 may not be enough, as this Lancet study finds that people recovering from the infection may exhibit at least one symptom for upto 6 months.
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Testing negative for covid-19 might not bring relief from symptoms Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Quick recovery. Isn’t that what anyone who has ever had covid-19 hopes for? Once you test positive, all you wish for is to be free of this viral infection as soon as possible. Unfortunately though, even if you recover and test negative—chances are that at least one of the many covid-19 symptoms will stay with for a long time.

According to a Lancet study, you are likely to suffer from at least one covid-19 symptom after six months. The study involved hundreds of patients in the Chinese city of Wuhan, is among the few to trace the long-term symptoms of Covid-19 infection. Its findings indicate that fatigue or muscle weakness are the most common after-effects, while people also reported sleeping difficulties.

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The battle against covid-19 doesn’t stop after you test negative

“Because covid-19 is such a new disease, we are only beginning to understand some of its long-term effects on patients’ health,” said lead author Bin Cao, of the National Center for Respiratory Medicine.

The professor said the research highlighted the need for ongoing care for patients after they have been discharged from hospital, particularly those who have had severe infections.

Symptoms of covid-19 might alleviate.

“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,” he added.

The World Health Organization has said the virus poses a risk for some people of serious ongoing effects— even among young, otherwise healthy people who were not hospitalised.

The new study included 1,733 Covid-19 patients discharged from Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan between January and May last year. Patients, who had an average age of 57, were visited between June and September and answered questions on their symptoms and health-related quality of life. Researchers also conducted physical examinations and lab tests.

The study found that 76% of patients who participated in the follow-up (1,265 of 1,655) said they still had symptoms. Fatigue or muscle weakness was reported by 63%, while 26% had sleep problems.

The study also looked at 94 patients whose blood antibody levels were recorded at the height of the infection as part of another trial. When these patients were retested after six month, their levels of neutralising antibodies were 52.5% lower.

The authors said this raises concerns about the possibility of covid-19 re-infection, although they said larger samples would be needed to clarify how immunity to the virus changes over time.

(With inputs from AFP)

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