According to the study published in the British medical journal-The Lancet patients who recovered from Covid-19 tend to be in “poorer health” even two years after the initial infection as compared to the general population, indicating that some patients need more time to fully recover.
The study was done on 1,192 participants who were hospitalised with Covid-19 in Wuhan, China, between January 7th and May 29th, 2020-during the first phase of the pandemic.
They were followed up at six months, 12 months, and two years after discharge.
Researchers found that around half of the participants had symptoms of long Covid– including fatigue and sleep difficulties – at two years. They also experienced poorer quality of life and ability to exercise, faced more mental health issues, and there was an increased use of health-care services compared to those without symptoms of long Covid.
The median age of participants at discharge was 57 years, and 54% (n=641) were men.
Six months after initially falling ill, 68% (777/1,149) of study participants reported at least one long Covid symptom.
They found that by two years after infection, reports of symptoms had fallen to 55% (650/1,190). Common symptoms like fatigue or muscle weakness fell from 52% (593/1,151) at six months to 30% (357/1,190) at two years.
Lead author Professor Bin Cao, of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, China, said “Our findings indicate that for a certain proportion of hospitalised Covid-19 survivors, while they may have cleared the initial infection, more than two years is needed to recover fully from Covid-19. Ongoing follow-up of Covid-19 survivors, particularly those with symptoms of long COVID, is essential to understand the longer course of the illness, as is further exploration of the benefits of rehabilitation programmes for recovery. There is a clear need to provide continued support to a significant proportion of people who’ve had COVID-19, and to understand how vaccines, emerging treatments, and variants affect long-term health outcomes.”
The study found that 31% (351/1,127) patients reported fatigue or muscle weakness and 31% (354/1,127) reported sleep difficulties. On the other hand, the proportion of non-Covid-19 participants reporting these symptoms was 5% (55/1,127) and 14% (153/1,127), respectively.
Covid-19 patients also experienced other symptoms like joint pain, palpitations, dizziness, and headaches. Covid-19 patients also more often reported pain or discomfort (23% [254/1,127]) and anxiety or depression (12% [131/1,127]) than non-Covid-19 participants (5% [57/1,127] and 5% [61/1,127], respectively).
19% (123/650) reported anxiety or depression. The proportion of Covid-19 patients without long Covid reporting these symptoms was 10% (55/540) and 4% (19/540) at two years, respectively.
Long Covid participants also more often reported problems with their mobility (5% [33/650]) or activity levels (4% [24/540]) than those without long Covid (1% [8/540] and 2% [10/540], respectively), it said.