COVID-19 Patients may not Recover Months after Diagnosis, Chinese Study Reveals

A study carried out on 1,733 COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized in Wuhan, China between January and May 2020, has revealed that almost 80% of the patients continued to suffer from at least one of the symptoms of the coronavirus disease. The study, which was published in the general medical journal The Lancet, discovered that the majority of the patients reported experiencing acute lethargy for six months after their original diagnosis, NBC News writes.

The scientists tracked the patients’ progress from June to September, carrying out laboratory tests, checking their lungs and other organs, and conducting physical interviews to ascertain when they would completely recover. According to the results of the study, 63% of the participants continued experiencing fatigue and muscle weakness, 26% reported experiencing difficulties falling asleep and 23% were suffering from depression or anxiety six months after they got hospitalized.

According to the team of researchers, the study is the biggest of its kind in terms of the number of participants and follow-up period. Bin Cao, a co-author of the study told reporters that the essence of the study is to discover how long COVID-19 symptoms continue to exist in patients.

“COVID-19 is a relatively new disease, so we still don’t know everything about how it works,” Cao stated. “Our study shows that a large percentage of patients keep experiencing some of the symptoms of the disease months after they get discharged from the hospital. The study also focuses on the need for countries to make post-discharge care available, especially for patients who suffer from severe cases of infectious disease.”

About 390 of the study’s participants had a lung-function test about six months after they first got COVID-19. The researchers said they discovered that patients who had to receive supplemental oxygen and those that were placed on ventilators, showed the tendency to develop reduced lung function amidst other lingering symptoms, Yahoo reports.

Some 822 patients had no problems with their kidneys while in the hospital but six months later, 13% of them had developed decreased kidney performance, according to the researchers.

The researchers only worked with patients that were hospitalized, as such, experts say, its findings might not apply to the general population of those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Dr. Steven Deeks, a medicine professor at the University of California told reporters that people who recovered from COVID-19 without getting medical care have largely been ignored.

“We’ve been concentrating on controlling patients who were severely ill, because of the situation we had in our hands,” Deeks stated. “But now almost everyone is accepting that there are lingering effects that can be very chronic and last for years.”

It is unclear how many COVID-19 patients suffer from “long-COVID” as some researchers are calling the long-lasting symptoms, but a UK study conducted last August stated that about 10% of COVID-19 patients keep suffering from chronic symptoms months after their original diagnosis. A King’s College study, which has not been reviewed, also stated that almost 100 out of 4,000 COVID-19 patients didn’t recover from the illness three months after they started experiencing symptoms.