More than three quarters of COVID-19 patients have at least one ongoing symptom six months after initially becoming unwell, according to research published in The Lancet.
The study, looking at long-term effects of COVID-19 infection on people hospitalised in Wuhan, China, found that the most common symptom to persist is fatigue or muscle weakness (63% of patients), with patients also frequently experiencing sleep difficulties (26%). Anxiety or depression was reported among 23% of patients.
Patients who were severely ill in hospital more often had impaired lung function and abnormalities detected in chest imaging – which could indicate organ damage – six months after symptom onset.
Levels of antibodies fell by more than half (52.5%) after six months in 94 patients whose immune response was tested at the peak of the infection, raising concerns about the possibility of being re-infected by the virus.
Huang C, et al. The Lancet, 8 January 2021. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)32656-8/fulltext