One in eight people who get the coronavirus develop at least one long-term COVID symptom, one of the most comprehensive studies on the condition suggested Thursday.
With more than half a billion coronavirus cases recorded worldwide since the start of the pandemic, there is growing concern about the long-lasting symptoms seen in people with COVID.
However, almost no existing research has compared long-term COVID victims to people who have never been infected, making it possible that some health problems were not caused by the virus.
A new study published in the Lancet The journal asked more than 76,400 adults in the Netherlands to fill out an online questionnaire on 23 common longstanding COVID symptoms.
From March 2020 to August 2021, each participant filled out the questionnaire 24 times.
During that period, over 4,200 of them, 5.5%, reported catching COVID.
Of those with COVID, more than 21% had at least one new or severely aggravated symptom three to five months after being infected.
However about 9% of the control group, which did not have COVID, reported a similar increase in some symptoms.
The study said that this shows that 12.7% of people who had COVID – about 1 in 8 – suffered from long-term symptoms.
The research also recorded symptoms before and after COVID infection, helping researchers to pinpoint what was related to the virus.
It found that common chronic COVID symptoms include chest pain, difficulty breathing, muscle pain, loss of taste and smell, and general fatigue.
One of the study’s authors, Aranka Ballering of the Dutch University of Groningen, said prolonged COVID “was an urgent problem with a rising human toll.”
“By looking at symptoms before and after SARS-CoV-2 infection in an uninfected control group and individuals, we accounted for symptoms that may be a result of non-infectious disease health aspects of the pandemic, such as restrictions and uncertainty. Because of stress,” she said.
The study’s authors said its limitations include that it does not include later variants such as delta or omicron, and did not collect information on certain symptoms, such as brain fog, which have since long been considered a common sign of COVID-19. goes.
Another study author, Judith Rosemelon, said “future research should include mental health symptoms” such as depression and anxiety, as well as aspects such as brain fog, insomnia and a feeling of malaise after moderate exertion.
Christopher Brightling and Rachel Evans, UK’s University of Leicester experts who were not involved in the study, said it was “a huge advance” over previous long COVID research because it had an uninfected control group.
“Encouragingly, emerging data from other studies” suggest that there are lower rates of long-term COVID in people who have been vaccinated or infected with the Omicron variant, they said in a link. knife Comment.