Long COVID at 12 months persists at 18 months, study finds

(This story from October 13 has been corrected to change the last percentage in paragraph 4 from 39% to 38%).

By Nancy Lapid

(Reuters) – Most COVID-19 patients who have persistent symptoms at 12 months are likely to still have symptoms at 18 months, new data shows.

The findings are taken from a large study of 33,281 people in Scotland who tested positive for coronavirus. Most of the results are consistent with those of earlier, smaller studies.

Among a subset of 197 survivors of symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections who responded to surveys at 12 months and 18 months, most reported persistent symptoms at both time points, researchers reported in Nature Communications. .

Non-recovery rates at 12 months were 11% with 51% partial recovery and 39% complete recovery. The rates at 18 months were 11% without recovery, 51% partial and 38% complete.

Asymptomatic infections were not associated with long COVID. But of the 31,486 people with symptomatic infections, almost half reported incomplete recovery between six and 18 months.

A total of 3,744 participants with symptomatic infections completed two questionnaires over the following year. At six months, 8% reported no recovery, 47% reported partial recovery, and 45% reported complete recovery. These rates had barely changed at 12 months, with 8% reporting no recovery, 46% partial recovery, and 46% complete recovery.

One in 20 patients with symptomatic infection reported no recovery at the most recent follow-up, the researchers said.

“Our study is important because it adds to our understanding of long COVID in the general population, not just in people who need to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19,” said study leader Jill Pell of the University of Glasgow in a statement. .

Long COVID was more likely in patients who had been hospitalized and in those who were older, female, socioeconomically disadvantaged and with pre-existing health conditions. The most common persistent symptoms included shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations, confusion, and “brain fog.”

Vaccination before infection appeared to protect against some long-term symptoms, the researchers also found.

The researchers also surveyed nearly 63,000 people with only negative COVID tests, to distinguish between health problems due to COVID-19 and health problems that would be expected in the general population.

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid; Editing by Caroline Humer and David Gregorio)

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