Infectious Disease

In Wuhan, 76% of COVID-19 sufferers report signs 6 months later

January 28, 2021

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About 76% of patients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China still had at least one symptom after 6 months, according to a study recently published in The Lancet.

“These results support the need for follow-up care for people with severe illness.” kaolin Huang, MD, from Jin Yin-tan Hospital, and colleagues wrote. “Longer follow-up studies in a larger population are needed to understand the full range of health consequences of COVID-19.”

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Source: Huang C, et al. Lancet. 2020; doi: 10.1016 / S0140-6736 (20) 32656-8.

Previously published studies showed that approximately 90% of recovered COVID-19 patients continued to report persistent symptoms after an average of 60 days.

In their study, Huang and colleagues looked at 1,733 patients with COVID-19 who were discharged from Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan, where the pandemic originated. They only included patients discharged between January 7, 2020 and May 29, 2020. The researchers conducted follow-up examinations between June 16, 2020 and September 3, 2020. The median follow-up was 186 days.

The researchers interviewed patients using questionnaires to determine their quality of life and symptoms. Patients also had laboratory tests, physical exam, and a 6-minute walk test to measure endurance.

Of 1,655 participants with data, 1,265 (76%) reported at least one symptom on follow-up, including more women than men. Within the patient groups, the most common persistent symptoms were fatigue or muscle weakness (63%), with 26% of patients having difficulty sleeping and 23% reporting anxiety or depression. In addition, neutralizing antibody levels decreased 52.5% after 6 months in 94 patients whose immune responses were measured at the peak of their infection, which the researchers believe may raise concerns about re-infection. The patients had a mean age of 57 years (interquartile range = 47) and 52% of the patients were men.

“The decline in neutralizing antibodies gives cause for concern about re-infection with SARS-CoV-2,” said Huang. “The risk of re-infection should be monitored in patients with new COVID-19 symptoms.”

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