A new study looking at people discharged from hospital after treatment for Covid-19 has found that 4 in 5 of them were still reporting symptoms even 2 months later.
The research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at 143 patients from Italy who had been hospitalized with Covid-19 and survived.
On average, patients were assessed two months after the onset of their first Covid-19 symptom and had spent two weeks in hospital recovering. 28 patients had received invasive, or non-invasive ventilation and to be included in the study, they had to have been discharged from hospital and have tested negative for the virus. At the time of the assessment, none of the patients reported fever, or any symptoms of acute Covid-19 but over half reported fatigue and 43% reported shortness of breath. Almost a third of the survivors reported joint pain and 22% had chest pain.
Only 13% of patients were free of any Covid-19-related symptoms after 2 months, whereas over half of people reported three or more symptoms. The study also asked patients a number of questions related to their quality of life, with 44% of patients saying their quality of life was worse than before they were sick.
Covid-19 is often written off by naysayers as a disease which only severely affects older people, but people profiled in this study were between 19-84 years old, with an average age of 57.
Of note, the study only looked at people who had been hospitalized with Covid-19, so the findings may not reflect people who have had less-severe Covid-19, not requiring hospitalization. Additionally, almost three quarters of the patients experienced signs of interstitial pneumonia when in hospital and it is not unusual for people to experience symptoms for several months following severe pneumonia, even if it is not caused by the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus.
However, the new findings add growing evidence that in some people, Covid-19 can cause persistent and long-lasting symptoms, even long after the virus itself can no longer be detected. Many physicians have warned that Covid-19 could cause long-term disability in some people who survive the disease and have called for more research into both the acute and chronic effects of the virus.