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6 months later, Covid survivors plagued by health problems

Most symptoms in the Wuhan report were slightly more common among women, with 81 percent reporting at least one health problem compared to 73 percent of men.

Reports of other respiratory diseases, such as the 2003 outbreak of SARS, another type of coronavirus, suggest that some Covid survivors may experience repercussions for months or years. Most SARS patients recovered physically, but researchers found that many had “worrying levels of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder” a year later.

In a commentary accompanying the Lancet study, researchers from Italy wrote that 38 percent of SARS survivors had reduced the oxygen flow from their lungs 1

5 years later, adding that “evidence from previous coronavirus outbreaks suggests that some degree of lung damage may persist.”

While people who were hospitalized for Covid may experience more severe or prolonged physical problems, a growing body of evidence shows that even people who were never hospitalized may have residual symptoms. Many such patients seek care from the post-Covid clinics that spring up in the United States.

A recent study by a patient-led research team involved 3,762 participants, mostly women, from 56 countries – most of whom had not been admitted. Nearly two-thirds reported having symptoms for at least six months, most of which said they were tired and that their symptoms worsened after physical or mental exertion, according to the report, which has not been peer-reviewed. More than half of those with symptoms said they experienced “cognitive dysfunction” that involved fogging in the brain or difficulty thinking or concentrating.

Dr. Peluso noted that when Wuhan patients were admitted in the first half of 2020, most were not treated with any more recently recognized treatments such as remdesivir or dexamethasone, so it is unclear whether people receiving these treatments now will encounter the same degree of long-term term complications.

Still, he and other doctors said the study’s portrait of lingering symptoms is true. Dr. Ferrante said that in the post-Covid recovery program, where she treats patients, “pretty much everyone I see reports impaired physical or cognitive function or both.”

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