20% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients have symptoms 2 years later, study finds

Nearly 20 percent of COVID-19 survivors may experience lingering, worsening or new-onset symptoms two years after infection, according to a study of nearly 2,000 patients who were hospitalized at the start of the pandemic in Wuhan, China. 

Researchers followed up with 1,864 COVID-19 survivors who were hospitalized in Wuhan from February 10, 2020 to April 10, 2020. Researchers interviewed patients over the phone one year and two years after they were released from the hospital, according to the study published Sept. 15 in JAMA Network Open. 

Two years after hospital release, researchers found 19.8 percent of patients still had symptoms. Fatigue, chest tightness, anxiety, shortness of breath and muscle pain were the most common symptoms.  

The proportion of patients with long COVID-19 symptoms decreased over time, with 43.2 percent reporting symptoms one year after hospital release compared to 19.8 percent after two years. This decrease was seen among COVID-19 patients with either severe or mild illness, and was greater among those with severe disease. However, those with severe disease, "especially those who required intensive care unit admission, had higher risks of persistent symptoms and higher chronic obstructive pulmonary disease assessment test scores," researchers said.

Study participants contracted COVID-19 when the original strain was circulating, making the study's revalence to infections with the omicron variant unknown, researchers said.


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