Most COVID patients have ongoing symptoms

Grant Boone
January 13, 2021

"In light of reports that a subset of recovered patients with COVID-19 experience persistent symptoms, such as fatigue, dyspnoea [breathlessness] and joint pains, some over 80 days after initial onset of symptoms, we posit that the dysbiotic gut microbiome could contribute to immune-related health problems post-COVID-19", they write.

"Some persisting symptoms such as fatigue and dyspnea, impaired pulmonary function and chest image abnormalities were reported in patients following hospital discharge, but the full spectrum of post-discharge characteristics is still unknown". Researchers say few studies have looked at the long-term health impacts of coronavirus as the pandemic is still ongoing globally.

It comes as mainland China saw its biggest daily increase in COVID-19 cases in over five months, the country's health authority said on Monday, as new infections in Hebei province surrounding Beijing continued to rise.

The scientists found that 76 % of patients reported at least one ongoing symptom during the follow up tests.

Fred Pelzman, an associate medical director of Weill Cornell Internal Medicine Associates, a hospital in NY that was not involved in the study, said the experience of patients in China is similar to what has been seen in the US.

They also underwent physical examinations, a six-minute walking test and a blood test. 56 per cent of those with severe illness experienced a reduced flow of oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream.

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To characterise the gut microbiome, 41 of the COVID patients provided multiple stool samples while in hospital, 27 of whom provided serial stool samples up to 30 days after clearance of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. "Bolstering of beneficial gut species depleted in COVID-19 could serve as a novel avenue to mitigate severe disease, underscoring the importance of managing patients' gut microbiota during and after COVID-19".

Along with common lung issues typical of coronavirus, the study discovered some patients developed kidney issues following their hospital stay.

The findings also suggest that patients with more severe disease performed worse in the six-minute walking test. Researchers also found that 13 per cent of the patients whose kidney function was normal while in the hospital had reduced kidney function in their follow-up.

Levels of neutralising antibodies fell by more than half (52.5 per cent) after six months in 94 patients whose immune response was tested at the peak of the infection.

The bacteria lurking in COVID-19 patients' intestines may play a role in how sick they get from the illness, according to new research. The study also reveals that women have a higher risk of being affected by the virus than men.

"Even though the study offers a comprehensive clinical picture of the aftermath of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients, only 4% were admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU), rendering the information about the long-term consequences in this particular cohort inconclusive", says a team from the Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS, Italy - who was not involved in the study.

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