There is fresh evidence to show that people with COVID-19 who still have symptoms after 12 months are likely to have symptoms after 18 months. The research is based on a massive survey of 33,281 patients in Scotland who were found to have the coronavirus. In general, the findings are consistent with those of previous, smaller research.
In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers found that the majority of the 197 people who survived symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections and completed follow-up questionnaires at 12 and 18 months still had some of the original symptoms. After a year, 11% of patients had shown no improvement, whereas 51% had shown some improvement, and 39% had shown a full recovery. At 18 months, 11% had no improvement, 51% had some improvement, and 38% had made a full recovery.
Long COVID was not connected with infections that caused no symptoms. Of the 31,486 participants who had symptoms from their illnesses, over half still hadn’t fully recovered after six to eighteen months. Over the course of the next year, 3,744 people with symptomatic illnesses answered questionnaires twice. Only 8% said they were completely well after six months, whereas 47% said they were mostly better, and 45% said they were fully better. Twelve months later, there was hardly any change in these percentages, with 8% claiming no recovery, 46% claiming partial recovery, and 46% claiming total recovery.
According to the most recent follow-up, one in twenty individuals with a symptomatic infection claimed that they had not recovered. Individuals who were hospitalized, as well as those who were elderly, female, economically poor, and had underlying health issues, were at a higher risk of developing long COVID. Breathlessness, chest discomfort, palpitations, and confusion/brain fog were the most prevalent long-lasting symptoms. Preventive vaccination seems to protect against certain chronic symptoms, the scientists also discovered.
So that they could tell apart COVID-19-related health issues from those that would be predicted in the general population, the researchers also examined approximately 63,000 people who had merely tested negative for COVID.