By Ernie Mundell
MONDAY January 11, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Concerns about the “long haul” symptoms in COVID-19 survivors may be revived by a new study: it reveals that 3 in 4 patients from Wuhan, China – where the pandemic original – still suffered from at least one persistent health problem six months later.
The study in China involved more than 1,700 patients first diagnosed with the virus in Wuhan between January and May, and then followed through June and September.
The researchers report that 76% of these patients had at least one symptom six months after the onset of symptoms.
“Because COVID-19 is such a new disease, we are only beginning to understand some of its long-term effects on the health of patients,” said researcher Dr Bin Cao, National Center for Respiratory Medicine at Friendship. China-Japan. Hospital and Capital Medical University, both in Beijing. His team published the results in The Lancet January 8 newspaper.
“Our analysis indicates that most patients continue to live with at least some of the effects of the virus after leaving hospital and highlights the need for post-discharge care, especially for those with severe infections,” Cao said in a newspaper. Release. “Our work also highlights the importance of conducting longer follow-up studies in larger populations in order to understand the full spectrum of effects COVID-19 can have on people.”
People who had been seriously ill with COVID-19 more often had impaired lung function, as well as abnormalities seen in chest x-rays, which could indicate organ damage, six months after the onset of symptoms, said the Chinese researchers.
The kidneys were also often affected. Based on lab tests, about 13% of patients who had normal kidney function while in hospital showed reduced kidney function after recovering from COVID-19, the researchers said.
An American expert said post-COVID-19 “recovery” remains an ongoing and ongoing story.
“The ‘long COVID’ is a progressive syndrome. While the constellation of associated early symptoms is fairly well described, little is known about long-term outcomes, ”said Dr. Thomas Gut, associate president of medicine at Staten Island University Hospital in New York. City. And he has seen similar problems in patients at his hospital.
“As noted in this study, the vast majority of patients seen in our post-COVID recovery center are for complaints of fatigue or brain fog, both of which have features of overlap with the complaints seen in this study,” said said Gut.
“Many of our patients report either new symptoms that have appeared since COVID or a significant worsening of symptoms,” he noted. “Most of our patients see gradual improvement in symptoms over time, but some still experience lingering effects almost a year after infection. For many patients, there is little clear explanation for their lingering symptoms, even after extensive testing and even less clear treatment. options at this point. “
Another expert believes health care centers need to be prepared for a wave of long COVID patients.
“There will be a wave of patients with long COVID entering our medical systems who will require continued care and rehabilitation,” said Dr. Robert Glatter, emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “We must not only plan for this, developing centers of excellence, but allocate the necessary federal funds to research and care for these patients.”
Beyond the physical problems encountered after COVID, there is “a psychological toll on recovery, which has a direct impact on how people are able to get on with their lives,” Glatter added. “Having the right resources is essential to aid healing in the painful and long months after an acute infection.
The Wuhan study also attempted to track the long-term immunity of survivors to COVID-19. He found that the levels of neutralizing antibodies against the new coronavirus fell by more than half (52.5%) after six months in 94 patients whose immune response was tested at the peak of infection.
This finding increases concern that survivors may be re-infected with the virus.
“At this time, the duration of immunity after infection with COVID-19 is unclear,” Glatter said.
However, he pointed to another study published in the journal Thursday. Science this “indicates that natural immunity to COVID-19 can last up to eight months, making the potential for reinfection less likely. It is a complex response involving antibodies, memory B cells, and different types of T cells . “
But all of this means vaccination is still imperative, even for people who already had COVID-19, Glatter said.
“We still don’t know the full picture of long-term immunity, making vaccination an essential part of the public health approach to this pandemic,” he said. “The vaccine is safe and effective and represents the most effective way to achieve collective immunity. ”
Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient number of people (about 70%) in a population have acquired immunity to a virus, effectively stopping its spread.
To learn more about COVID-19, see the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Thomas Gut, DO, associate president, medicine, Staten Island University Hospital, New York; Robert Glatter, MD, emergency physician, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York; The Lancet, press release, January 8, 2021