A Year After Hospital Discharge, Early Covid Patients in Wuhan Still Have Symptoms: New Study

by Bhaswati Guha Majumder - Oct 1, 2021 09:10 AM
A Year After Hospital Discharge, Early Covid Patients in Wuhan Still Have Symptoms: New StudyWuhan 
Snapshot
  • As per a new study that followed up with 2,433 adult patients who were admitted to Wuhan hospitals early in the pandemic, the group of researchers found that 45 per cent of the patients reported at least one symptom, while fatigue, sweating, chest tightness, anxiety and myalgia, were the most prevalent complaints.

As the source of the Covid-19 and when exactly the novel coronavirus began to spread among humans are still debatable, a new study claimed that among thousands of early patients in China’s Wuhan, almost half of those who were discharged from the hospital had at least one symptom that persisted a year later.

The researchers behind the study, which was published JAMA Network Open, followed up with 2,433 adult patients who were admitted to one of two Wuhan hospitals early in the pandemic.

The majority had mild instances, while a few had severe Covid-19 and required intensive care. All of the patients were released between 12 February and 10 April last year. However, the research follow-up took place in March 2021.

During the one-year follow-up, the group of researchers found that 45 per cent of the Covid-19 patients from Wuhan, where the virus first emerged, reported at least one symptom, while fatigue, sweating, chest tightness, anxiety and myalgia, which is also known as muscle pain, were the most prevalent complaints.

As per the study findings, a severe case of SARS-CoV-2 infection increased the risk of long-term symptoms; after a year, 54 per cent of the 680 severe cases reported at least one symptom. On the other hand, nonsevere cases were more likely to have lasting symptoms, with 41.5 per cent of 1,752 nonsevere cases having at least one symptom a year later.

Earlier, in a small Norwegian study published in June this year in Nature Medicine, a team of researchers found that 55 per cent of 247 non-hospitalised Covid-19 patients with mild-to-moderate illness had persisting symptoms six months after testing positive for the disease. Similarly, a UK study—was published in the journal PLOS Medicine earlier this week—comprising 273,618 Covid-19 patients, discovered that within a six-month follow-up period, more than half of non-hospitalised Covid-19 patients reported characteristics of “long-Covid”.

However, severe illness was found to be a substantial risk factor for having any persistent symptoms—as well as more than three symptoms—in all these studies, including the one which was conducted focusing on early patients in Wuhan. It was also noticed that persistent symptoms were also more likely in people who were older and female.

Even though the experts are yet to fully understand the long-term symptoms of the disease, the authors of the recently published study said: “Covid-19 can affect multiple organs, which leads to both acute organ damage and long-term sequelae, with the latter effects gaining increasing concerns.”

They point out that exhaustion or fatigue was the most common recurring symptom, which is supported by other studies. Fatigue is frequent following acute lung injuries, but it can also result from numerous organ damage.

The researchers also noted that roughly 4 per cent of patients still had heart palpitations a year later, implying that the cardiovascular system may have suffered long-term damage. Covid-19 is known to cause cardiovascular problems, such as inflammation of the heart muscle, known as myocarditis.

However, there are certain limitations to the study. It lacks a control group and the researchers were unable to reach all of the patients who were discharged from the hospital throughout the study period. This may result in data biases based on who was able or willing to participate in the follow-up.

The research also only focused on the early stages of the pandemic, before any novel coronavirus variants emerged and that could have different long-term effects. Nonetheless, the findings are essentially consistent with those of other investigations.

The study authors concluded the report stating, “The findings provide valuable information about the long-term health outcomes of Covid-19 survivors and identify risk factors for sustained symptoms and poor respiratory health status, which is of importance with the coming of the post-Covid-19 era.”

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