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Study: Long-Term Symptoms Of Covid-19 Can Emerge Months After Infection

A month after the initial infection, a number of symptoms may develop or persist as long COVID…


According to a US study, COVID-19’s long-term effects can last for at least a year after the acute illness has subsided or manifest months later. The study, which was just published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, provides the most thorough examination to date of how symptoms develop over the course of a year. By describing trends in greater detail than previous research and highlighting significant effects the epidemic has had on the health care system, it advances our understanding of post-COVID-19 conditions.

The study discovered that while symptoms only appeared for a brief period of time for some COVID-positive individuals—about 16 percent—for others, they persisted for at least a year. By measuring symptoms every three months, the team from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and associates were able to distinguish between symptoms that improve and those that appear months after the initial infection.

“It was common for symptoms to resolve then re-emerge months later, said study lead author Juan Carlos Montoy, an associate professor at UCSF. A lot of prior research has focused on symptoms at one or two points in time, but we were able to describe symptom trajectory with greater clarity and nuance. It suggests that measurements at a single point in time could underestimate or mischaracterises the true burden of disease,” Montoy said.

A month after the initial infection, a number of symptoms may develop or persist as long COVID. These signs and symptoms are linked to serious morbidity or a lower standard of living. 1,741 participants, two-thirds of whom were female, underwent COVID testing at eight major US healthcare systems.

The majority of people tested positive for COVID; however, those who tested negative may have also had an infection because they were exhibiting symptoms. These symptoms included diarrhoea, forgetfulness, runny nose, headache, sore throat, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, and diarrhea.
Participants who were COVID positive were more likely than COVID negative participants to experience symptoms in each of the symptom categories at baseline, but by the end of the year, there was no difference between the two groups.

“We were surprised to see how similar the patterns were between the COVID positive and COVID negative groups,” said Montoy.
“It shows that the burden after COVID may be high, but it might also be high for other non-COVID illnesses. We have a lot to learn about post-illness processes for COVID and other conditions,” the researcher added.
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