The long Covid problem might be bigger than we thought.
A large study has revealed that one in three Covid-19 survivors have suffered symptoms three to six months after getting infected, with breathing problems, abdominal symptoms such as abdominal pain, change of bowel habit and diarrhoea, fatigue, pain, anxiety and depression among the most common issues reported.
Researchers at the University of Oxford, the National Institute for Health Research and the Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre studied symptoms in more than 270,000 people recovering from Covid-19 and found that the nine features of long Covid were detected by clinicians more frequently in those who had been hospitalized, and slightly more often in women.
But Dr. Max Taquet, National Institute for Health Research academic clinical fellow and one of the authors of the study, said the results show long Covid affects a significant proportion of people of all ages. “We need appropriately configured services to deal with the current and future clinical need,” he said.
The study did not explain what causes long Covid symptoms, how severe they are or how long they will last, but it did show that people recovering from Covid were more likely to suffer long-term symptoms than those who had the flu.
Dr. Amitava Banerjee, a professor of clinical data science at University College London who was not involved in the study, said this finding is “yet another arrow in the quiver against bogus ‘this is just like flu’ claims.”
The symptoms people experienced varied, and many patients experienced more than one. Older people and men were more likely to have breathing difficulties and cognitive problems, whereas young people and women reported more headaches, abdominal symptoms, anxiety and depression.
The authors stressed that although the number of such incidents was higher among the elderly and those with more severe initial illness, people who had suffered a mild disease, children and young adults also experienced long Covid.
The accompanying data showed that as many as 46% of children and young adults between the ages of 10 and 22 had experienced at least one symptom in the six months after recovering.
A Health Care Worker seals a coronavirus test swab.
This risk of long Covid highlights why is it so important to protect children and young people from the coronavirus, even though the study said most don’t suffer from severe illness.
Cases among children have been soaring in the US since the more contagious Delta coronavirus variant became the country’s dominant strain in July. The American Academy of Pediatrics reported 206,864 weekly cases among children on Monday. That was a slight decline compared to the previous week, but a 188% increase since the week of July 22.
The data comes as Pfizer/BioNTech said Tuesday that they had begun submitting vaccine data on children aged 5 to 11 to the US Food and Drug Administration for review, and expect to submit a request for emergency use authorization in the coming weeks.
The next key question is whether parents will want to get their kids vaccinated. Parents of 5-to-11-year-olds are split on the issue, with 44% saying they are likely to do so and 42% saying they are unlikely to, according to poll results from Axios-Ipsos published Tuesday.