One in eight people infected with the coronavirus develops at least one long-lasting covid-19 symptom, one of the largest studies ever done on the disease revealed on Thursday.
With more than 500 million cases of the coronavirus recorded worldwide since the start of the pandemic, concerns have been raised about lasting symptoms in people with long-standing covid.
But few studies have compared people with prolonged covid to those who have not been infected.
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A new study published by The Lancet asked more than 76,400 adults in the Netherlands to complete an online questionnaire about 23 typical symptoms of prolonged covid.
Between March 2020 and August 2021, each participant completed the questionnaire 24 times.
In that period, more than 4,200, or 5.5%, reported having been infected with covid-19.
Of these, more than 21% had at least one or several severely increased symptoms three to five months after infection.
However, almost 9% of people in a control group who did not get Covid-19 reported a similar increase.
This suggests that 12.7% of those who had covid, almost one in eight, suffered from long-term symptoms, according to the study.
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The researchers also recorded symptoms before and after the Covid infection, allowing them to pin down exactly what was related to the virus.
They determined that common symptoms of prolonged covid include chest pain, breathing difficulties, muscle pain, loss of taste and smell, and fatigue.
One of the study’s authors, Aranka Ballering of the Dutch University of Groningen, commented that prolonged covid was “an urgent problem with a growing human cost.”
“By looking at symptoms in an uninfected control group and in individuals before and after a SARS-CoV-2 infection, we were able to see symptoms that could be a result of non-infectious health aspects of the pandemic, such as stress caused by COVID-19. the restrictions and the uncertainty”, he indicated.
The authors of the study acknowledged that it has limitations, such as not covering late variants such as delta or omicron, and does not collect information on symptoms such as a cloudy mind, considered typical of prolonged covid.
Christopher Brightling and Rachael Evans, experts from the UK’s University of Leicester who are not involved in the study, said it was “a big improvement” on previous studies because it included a control group of uninfected people. (YO)