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By Bloomberg

BEIJING: Two years after being hospitalized with Covid-19, more than half of patients still experience symptoms like fatigue and sleep disruption, according to a study in the original epicenter of Wuhan that underscores the pandemic’s lasting burden.

Full recovery has remained elusive for people who suffered through the virus’s first wave, meaning patients had poorer health than the general population and required more attention from health-care services, according to a study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

The findings bring home the challenge of dealing with Covid’s aftermath as millions of people -- some of them children and teens -- grapple with lingering symptoms that affect everything from mental health to their ability to work and contribute to the economy.

The study, led by doctors at the China–Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing, comes as China doubles down on its stringent Covid Zero strategy while much of the world lifts restrictions and attempts to live with the virus.

Original strain

Though no one knows yet what causes the constellation of symptoms that afflict a proportion of people after a SARS-CoV-2 infection, the research is probably the lengthiest follow-up to date. And while it could provide insight to add to doctors’ understanding, the patients involved had the original strain of the virus rather than variants now in circulation.

The scientists followed 1,192 people hospitalized with Covid at Wuhan’s Jin Yin-tan hospital in early 2020, checking in with them six months, 12 months and two years after their symptoms began.

The participants’ median age was 57, and more than half were men. In the study, their ability to walk six minutes was assessed, they underwent lab tests and they answered questionnaires about symptoms, mental health and quality of life. Some also had their pulmonary function checked and received chest imaging at each visit.

The results suggest time helped to some degree. After six months, 68% of study participants reported at least one symptom of long Covid. By two years, the reports had fallen to 55%. The scientists wrote that they intend to keep following up on the patients once a year.

“The negative effect on quality of life, exercise capacity, and health-care utilization highlights the importance of studying the pathogenesis of long Covid and promoting the exploration of targeted treatment to manage or alleviate the condition,” they wrote.

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Dive Deeper:
Covid patients show some symptoms for at least 2 years: Lancet study
The authors analysed the long-term health outcomes of hospitalised Covid-19 survivors as well as specific health impacts of Long Covid.
Long COVID symptoms: Post coronavirus sickness can continue for 2 yrs. Check these signs
The study shows long Covid symptoms recover with time. After six months, 68% of study participants reported at least one…
Half of patients hospitalised with Covid still struggling with symptoms two years later, study shows
The study followed 1,192 participants in China
Half of patients hospitalised with Covid have symptoms after two years, study shows
Wuhan research reveals effects of long Covid, with 31% reporting sleep difficulties
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Half of Covid-hospitalised still symptomatic two years on, study finds
Research on Wuhan patients reveals effects of long Covid, with 11% still not having returned to work
Covid symptoms warning as study discovers which signs can last for two years
The study also found that survivors of Covid were more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.
Get all your news in one place