New Information About Long-Term COVID-19 Symptoms

Researchers in Switzerland evaluated the long-term symptoms of individuals who had caught SARS-CoV-2 in a population-based prospective cohort study.

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New Information About Long-Term COVID-19 Symptoms

Between February 27, 2020, and August 5, 2020, the participants were inhabitants of the canton of Zurich, Switzerland, and had confirmed infection with SARS-CoV-2. Other recruiting criteria included being at least 18 years old, possessing a decent command of the German language, and being able to adhere to the study’s protocols.

The researchers enrolled a total of 431 individuals. The researchers evaluated the long-term consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infections using computerized self-report questionnaires and data collection using the Research Electronic Data Capture survey system.

Six–eight months after each participant’s first infection, they evaluated the following areas:

the participant’s level of recovery from COVID-19 the existence of symptoms such as dyspnea, tiredness, sadness, anxiety, and stress the participant’s interaction with the healthcare system following the acute illness phase, such as hospitalization or doctor visits

The participants were questioned about their present physical and mental health, as well as their health-related quality of life. Additionally, the researchers gathered information on the individuals’ sociodemographic characteristics, co-morbid illnesses, risk factors, and experiences during the first infection.

The study collected data using a variety of assessment instruments, including the Fatigue Assessment Scale, a modified Medical Research Council dyspnea scale, and the 21-item Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale.

The great majority of individuals — 89 percent — had symptoms during their initial infection, and 19 percent were hospitalized for an average of seven days owing to COVID-19.

Between six and eight months after the initial infection, slightly more than a quarter of individuals reported that they had not recovered completely from COVID-19.

New Information About Long-Term COVID-19 Symptoms
New Information About Long-Term COVID-19 Symptoms

Among the study’s findings are the following highlights:

    • 26% (111) of the participants reported they had not fully recovered from COVID-19 between 6 and 8 months after the initial infection.
    • 55% (233) of the participants reported they had symptoms of fatigue.
    • 25% (96) of the participants reported some level of dyspnea.
    • 26% (111) of the participants reported symptoms of depression.
    • 40% (170) of the participants reported they had at least one visit with a general practitioner related to COVID-19 after the 4-week period of acute illness.

Milo A. Puhan, MD, the study’s lead author and head of the Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Prevention Institute at the University of Zurich, told MNT:

“Our data show that long COVID affects different people in different ways. About one quarter had not fully recovered after 6–8 months. While some individuals complained about persisting symptoms, others described symptoms of fatigue, dyspnea, and depression. We found that these outcomes appear to occur together only in [a] few participants, while the majority was affected by only one or two of these outcomes simultaneously.”