1 in 10 people still have symptoms of COVID-19 8 months after infection, according to a new study by researchers at Danderyd Hospital and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden
The researchers found that 1 in 10 people still had at least one moderate to severe long-term symptom of COVID-19 8 months after a mild infection. Study, published in the journal JAMA, also found that the most common long-term symptoms are loss of smell, taste and fatigue.
In the first phase, blood samples were collected from 2,149 employees at Danderyd Hospital and have been collected every four months since then. Study participants, about 19% of whom had antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, also responded to questionnaires regarding long-term symptoms and their impact on quality of life.
In the third follow-up, the research team examined the presence of long-term symptoms and their impact on work, social and home life reported by participants themselves who had mild COVID-19 at least eight months earlier.
This group consisted of 323 health workers (83% women, mean age 43 years) and was compared with 1,072 health workers (86% women, mean age 47 years) who did not have COVID-19 during the entire study period.
The results showed that 26% of those who had previously had COVID-19, compared with 9% in the control group, had at least one moderate to severe symptom lasting more than two months and that 11%, compared with 2% in control group, had at least one symptom with a negative impact on work, social or domestic life that lasted at least eight months.
Charlotte Thålin, specialist, dr. and lead researcher of the COMMUNITY study at Danderyd Hospital and the Karolinska Institutet, said: “We investigated the presence of long-lasting symptoms after mild COVID-19 in a relatively young and healthy group of workers and found that the dominant term symptoms were loss of smell and taste. Fatigue and respiratory problems were also more common among participants who had COVID-19, but did not occur to the same extent.
“However, we do not see an increased prevalence of cognitive symptoms such as brain fatigue, memory and concentration problems, or physical disorders such as muscle and joint pain, palpitations, or prolonged fever.”
“Despite the fact that study participants had a mild COVID-19 infection, a relatively large proportion report long-term symptoms that affect quality of life. In light of this, we believe that young and healthy individuals, as well as other groups in society, should have great respect for a virus that appears to be able to significantly impair quality of life, even long after infection. “added Sebastian Havervall, deputy chief physician at Danderyd Hospital and a doctoral student in the project at the Karolinska Institutet.
“Among other things, we will take a closer look at the odor and taste loss associated with COVID-19 and investigate whether the immune system, including autoimmunity, plays a role in post-COVID,” Charlotte Thålin concluded.