Prolonged COVID: 1 in 8 people have symptoms, according to a new study in The Lancet

A study in the Netherlands revealed that one in eight adults (12.7%) with COVID-19 had long-term symptoms / REUTERS / Eva Plevier

It is well known that infection with COVID-19 can have after effects. Some last a few weeks. Others are more than a year old. But the number of people actually infected with prolonged COVID or long-term COVID is still being studied. A new work carried out in the Netherlands and published in the prestigious magazine scalpel revealed that One in eight adults (12.7%) with COVID-19 develops long-term symptoms.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Groningen and Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands.provided one of the first comparisons of long-term symptoms after infection with MERS-CoV with symptoms in an uninfected population. It also measured symptoms in individuals before and after infection with COVID-19.

Including the uninfected population allows for a more accurate prediction of the long-term prevalence of COVID-19 symptoms, as well as better identification of key symptoms of prolonged COVID-19. “There is an urgent need for data that demonstrates the magnitude and extent of long-term symptoms that some patients experience after illness with COVID-19,” Professor Judith Rosmalin of the University of Groningen, lead author of the study, said.

They included the uninfected population to get a better identification of the main symptoms of prolonged COVID-19 (Getty)
They included the uninfected population to get a better identification of the main symptoms of prolonged COVID-19 (Getty)

“however, most previous research on COVID for extended periods did not look at the frequency of these symptoms in people who had not been diagnosed with COVID-19 or looked at individual patient symptoms prior to the diagnosis of COVID-19. “to caution.

Dr. Rosmalin added: “Our study focuses on examining symptoms most associated with prolonged COVID-19, including respiratory problems, fatigue, loss of taste and/or smell, prior to the diagnosis of COVID-19 and in people who have not yet been diagnosed with it. This method allows us to take into account pre-existing symptoms and symptoms in uninfected people to provide an improved working definition of COVID-19 in the long-term and to provide a reliable estimate of the long-term probability of COVID-19 in the general population. “

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In this new study conducted in the Netherlands, researchers collected data by asking participants in a population-based Lifeline COVID-19 cohort to regularly fill out digital questionnaires about 23 symptoms commonly associated with prolonged COVID-19.

The questionnaire was sent 24 times to the same individuals between March 2020 and August 2021, which means that participants who contracted COVID-19 during this time contracted the alpha variant of the coronavirus or previous variants. Most of the data was collected prior to the COVID-19 vaccination scheme in the Netherlands, so the number of vaccinated participants was too small to be analyzed in this study.

The survey was answered 24 times between March 2020 and August 2021. During that time they were infected with the alpha variant of coronavirus or older variants/file
The survey was answered 24 times between March 2020 and August 2021. During that time they were infected with the alpha variant of coronavirus or older variants/file

Participants were recorded as positive for COVID-19 if they had a positive test or medical diagnosis of COVID-19. Of the 76,422 participants, 4,231 (5.5%) participants who had COVID-19 were matched with 8,462 controls based on gender, age and when they completed questionnaires indicating a COVID-19 diagnosis.

The researchers found that many of the symptoms were new or more severe three to five months after infection with COVID-19, compared to symptoms previously diagnosed with COVID-19 and the control group, suggesting that these symptoms can be considered the core symptoms of prolonged COVID.

The main symptoms recorded were chest pain, shortness of breath, pain when breathing, muscle pain, loss of taste and/or smell, tingling in the hands/feet, lumps in the throat, feeling alternately hot and cold, heaviness in the arms and/or Or legs and general fatigue. The severity of these symptoms stabilized three months after infection, without further decline. Other symptoms that have not increased significantly three to five months after the diagnosis of COVID-19 include headache, itchy eyes, dizziness, back pain and nausea.

It was found that 12.7% of COVID-19 patients experienced new or severe symptoms three months after COVID that could be attributed to infection.
It was found that 12.7% of COVID-19 patients experienced new or severe symptoms three months after COVID that could be attributed to infection.

Study first author Aranka Ballering said: “These core symptoms have important implications for future research as they can be used to differentiate post-COVID-19 status from non-COVID-19 symptoms.”

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Among study participants who provided data on pre-COVID symptoms, researchers found that 21.4% (381/1,782) of COVID-19-positive participants, compared to 8.7% (361/4130) of the control group, experienced at least an increase. In central symptoms of moderate severity 3 months or more after infection with the coronavirus. This means that in 12.7% of COVID-19 patients their new or severely increased symptoms three months after COVID can be attributed to infection.

“By looking at symptoms in the uninfected control group and in individuals before and after infection with the coronavirus, we were able to calculate symptoms that may be caused by the non-infectious health aspects of the epidemic, such as stress from restrictions,” Ballring said. “The post-COVID-19 condition, prolonged COVID, is an urgent problem with an increasing number of human casualties. Understanding the underlying symptoms and the spread of post-COVID-19 in the general population is an important step forward in our ability to design studies that can ultimately inform Successful health responses to the long-term symptoms of COVID-19. COVID-19″, is highlighted.

The research authors acknowledge that the mental fog that COVID-19 can generate needs further study.  / Photo: Kristen Close / dpa
The research authors acknowledge that the mental fog that COVID-19 can generate needs further study. / Photo: Kristen Close / dpa

The authors acknowledge some limitations of the study. This study included patients with the alpha variant or preceding variants and had no data on subjects affected during the period when the delta or omicron variant caused the most infections. Furthermore, due to asymptomatic infection, the prevalence of COVID-19 may be underestimated in this study. Another limitation of this study is that, since the beginning of data collection, other symptoms have been identified, Like brain fog, it may be relevant to the identification of COVID for extended periods, but this study did not look at these symptoms. In addition, the study was conducted in one region and did not include an ethnically diverse population.

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Professor Judith Rosmalin pointed out that “Future research should include mental health symptoms (eg, symptoms of depression and anxiety), along with other post-infection symptoms that we were not able to assess in this study (eg, brain fog, insomnia, post-performance malaise). We were not able to verify what might cause any of the symptoms seen after COVID-19 in this study, but we hope that future research will provide insight into the mechanisms involved. Also, due to the timing of this study, we were unable to assess the effect of vaccination against COVID-19 and different variants of the coronavirus on long-term COVID symptoms. We hope that future studies will provide answers about the impact of these factors.”

In a related comment on the paper published on scalpelProfessor Christopher Breitling and Dr Rachel Evans, from the University of Leicester Institute of Lung Health (who were not involved in the study) said: “This is a significant improvement over previous estimates of the prevalence of COVID. It includes an identical non-infected cohort. It takes into account symptoms prior to COVID-19 infection. The pattern of symptoms observed by Ballring and colleagues was similar to previous reports, with fatigue and shortness of breath being among the most common, but interestingly that other symptoms such as chest pain were more characteristic in long-term COVID patients. The case definition for Long COVID, Brightling, and Evaens needs further refinement, likely to describe different types of long COVID, for whom a better mechanical understanding is essential.”

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