Blood Collection Specialist Niilo Juntunen removes the IV from recovered coronavirus patient Monica Jacobs when she donated convalescent plasma to the Central Seattle Donor during the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Seattle, Wash., Sept. 2, 2020 Center finished by Bloodworks Northwest.
Lindsey Wasson | Reuters
A new study has identified the main factors that make patients more likely to suffer from the coronavirus in the long term.
"Long Covid" is the term used for people who have had a confirmed (or suspected) coronavirus case and are recovering from the initial infection but continue to experience a variety of symptoms, from shortness of breath and migraines to chronic fatigue.
A new analysis by researchers at King & # 39; s College London using data from the COVID Symptom Study App shows that "one in 20 people with Covid-19 is likely to have symptoms for 8 weeks or more".
The study, released on Wednesday, examined data from 4,182 users of the COVID symptom studies app who tested positive for the virus and consistently logged their health.
The team found that elderly or obese people, women, people with asthma, and people with a greater number of different symptoms were more likely to develop a "long covid" in the first week of their illness.
Taking a closer look at the risk factors, the study by King's researchers found that around 10% of 18- to 49-year-olds who are unwell with Covid-19 are affected by Covid, with the proportion of those affected in the 70 and over Year-olds rose to 22%.
Weight also plays a role as it affects people with a slightly higher average BMI (Body Mass Index).
Women suffered from long-term Covid much more often than men (14.5% versus 9.5%), but only in the younger age group.
The researchers also found that people who reported a wide range of initial symptoms were more likely to develop long-term Covid, as were people with asthma, even though there were no clear associations with other underlying health conditions.
In relation to the commonly reported symptoms of long Covid, two main symptom groups have been identified. One was dominated by respiratory symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath, fatigue and headache.
The second grouping "was clearly a multi-system involving many parts of the body, including the brain, intestines and heart," noted King.
The researchers have now used these results, which are to be pre-printed on Medrxiv (distributed unpublished prints across health sciences) and have not yet been peer-reviewed, to develop a model that can predict who is most at risk from long Covid by looking at a person's age, gender, and number of early symptoms.
The lead researcher, Dr. Claire Steves and Professor Tim Spector, said the research could be used to target early intervention and research for the prevention and treatment of long-term Covid.
"It is important that we use the knowledge we gained from the first wave of the pandemic to reduce the long-term effects of the second," noted Steves, a clinical academic and lead author on the study.
"This research could already pave the way for prevention and treatment strategies for long Covid. We urge everyone to join the effort by downloading the app and taking just a minute each day to log your health."
Long Covid is by no means a universal experience, and in fact, many people who have contracted the new coronavirus have had a mild illness or have been asymptomatic.
King's researchers found that while most people with Covid-19 reported returning to normal within 11 days or less, roughly one in seven (13.3%, 558 users) had symptoms of Covid-19 that lasted at least four weeks persisted, with roughly one in twenty (4.5%, 189 users) staying sick for eight weeks and one in 50 (2.3%, 95 users) suffering for more than 12 weeks.
"These are conservative estimates that, due to the strict definitions, can underestimate the extent of Long-Covid," warned King.
The UK's National Health Service announced in early October that it would provide professional help in clinics to those suffering from long-term symptoms of the coronavirus.