It has been about 11 months since the coronavirus first struck, and we are finally beginning to make advancements in treatment. It is assumed that once a patient recovers from an infection of COVID-19, the battle ends. However, recent studies have shown that survivors experience persisting issues even after six months of overcoming the virus.
A study was conducted on 1,733 patients who were discharged from a hospital in Wuhan, China, six months previously. It was found that 75% of them were suffering from at least one of the following issues: fatigue, insomnia, depression, anxiety, or diminished lung function. A scientist not involved in the study, Dr. Michael Peluso, shared his thoughts, “It documents what people have known for a while now — that a large proportion of people do have long-term health consequences.”
The patients were hospitalized for a median of 14 days from Jan. 7 to May 29 last year and had a median age of 57. They were given an assortment of physical exams, including lab tests and endurance/aerobic capacity tests. Additionally, about 350 endured health-related tests, such as CT scans and ultrasounds. After reviewing the results, it was apparent that the most abundant issue was exhaustion or muscle weakness (63%). Other recorded issues included difficulty sleeping (25%) and anxiety or depression (23%).
Dr. Steven Deeks, a University of California, San Francisco medicine professor, explains what these results mean regarding COVID-19 cases. “It shows that a substantial portion of people, far higher than you would expect in the general population, are exhibiting symptoms that are having an impact.” He is taking charge of another study that will test patients after 2 years of recovery.
Despite the helpful information that the study provided, it still has its issues. Firstly, it didn’t assess the cognitive or neurological functions of patients after 6 months and did not record whether or not patients had anxiety or depression prior to their diagnosis. Additionally, the test subjects were not among patients that were extremely affected by the disease. Although about 75% did require supplemental oxygen, most didn’t need even need ventilators. Dr. Lauren Ferrante, a pulmonary and critical care physician at Yale School of Medicine, delivers the hard truth, “Some of the sickest patients were excluded, so perhaps some of the outcomes that were reported would be worse if those patients were included.”