If you have recovered from Covid-19 but are still dealing with health issues such as fatigue, breathing difficulties and forgetfulness, you are not alone. According to a global study, since 2020, in India alone, nearly four crore people have experienced these symptoms of long-term Covid.
A paper — ‘A global systematic analysis of the incidence, severity and recovery pattern of long-term COVID in 2020 and 2021’ published by a group of researchers from several universities around the world, and from the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD), a collaboration of more than 3,600 researchers from 145 countries emphasizes the need to ensure rehabilitation of those who are confronted with Covid-19 for a long time. The researchers classified various long-term effects of Covid-19 into three categories: fatigue, cognitive problems and persistent breathing problems. They found that 144.7 million people experienced one or more of these three symptoms three months after infection, in 2020 and 2021.
Most cases were due to milder infections. Twelve months after infection there was no recovery in 15.1% of the cases. They found that the most common long-term Covid symptom was respiratory failure (89.3%), followed by post-acute fatigue syndrome (78.9%) and cognitive syndrome (55.2%). They also found that more women (63.2%) than men worldwide were affected by long-term Covid. The paper, which was published on medRxiv (a free online archive and distribution server for complete but unpublished manuscripts in medical, clinical and related health sciences), said a significant number of people with long-term Covid need rehabilitation care and support to return. to the workplace or education when symptoms begin to subside.
Those with milder acute Covid-19 cases had a faster estimated recovery of 3.99 months than those admitted for acute infection of 8.84 months. After 12 months, 15.1 percent continued to experience long-term Covid symptoms. The risk of long-term Covid was found to be greater in women between the ages of 20 and 29 and in women with a more severe initial infection. Furthermore, the researchers also found that long-term Covid also affected “a lower but significant number of children”, while severe acute infection at a younger age was very uncommon.
The researchers said these differences suggest that the underlying mechanism of long-term Covid may differ from that of the severity of an acute infection. “The appearance of debilitating persistent symptoms of Covid-19 is common.
Knowing how many people are affected and for how long is important to plan rehabilitation services and support to return to social activities, learning places and workplace when symptoms begin to subside,” they added.