‘Long Covid’ hits over half of survivors, threatens health systems

Pharmaceutical Journal illustration

According to a recent study at Penn State, more than half the people diagnosed with Covid-19 will suffer from “long Covid,” which can include one or more of a long list of lingering health issues.

Researchers found that survivors suffered from fatigue, decreased mobility, difficulty breathing, hair loss, chest pain and palpitations, diarrhea, anxiety, and more. How long will they suffer? That’s still uncertain. The rates of long Covid remained steady from one month after recovery to six months and longer.

The threat that long Covid poses to survivors is one that “governments, health-care organizations, and public-health professionals should prepare for,” the researchers said. Long-term health complications may increase demand for medical care, which could overwhelm health-care systems.

The study‘s findings “could help shape treatment plans to improve care for Covid-19 patients” and those suffering from long-term complications. One solution the researchers mentioned is one-stop clinics, which they said would be able to more efficiently serve Covid patients who don’t have the time or energy to go back and forth to their primary-care providers.

The study, published in JAMA Network Open, reviewed data from 57 studies that included data from over 250,000 unvaccinated adults and children who had Covid-19. Because the study “examined a larger population, including people in high-, middle- and low-income countries, and examined many more symptoms … the findings are quite robust,” said co-lead researcher Vernon Chincilli.
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