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At least half of the people who were admitted to a hospital due to Covid-19 suffer from one or more symptoms two years after the infection, according to a study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine on Tuesday, the longest such follow-up study has been done till date.

According to the new study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine on Tuesday, at least half of the people who were admitted in the hospital due to Covid-19 suffer from one or more symptoms after the infection. This is the longest such study till date.

The growing evidence shows that a considerable proportion of people who have recovered from COVID-19 have long-term effects on multiple organs and systems.

According to the Lancet study, COVID-19 survivors had a remarkably lower health status than the general population at 2 years. The study findings indicate that there is an urgent need to explore the pathogenesis of long COVID and develop effective interventions to reduce the risk of long COVID.

The study, was led by doctors at the China–Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing.

“Our findings indicate that for a certain proportion of hospitalised Covid-19 survivors, while they may have cleared the initial infection, more than two years is needed to recover fully. Ongoing follow-up of Covid-19 survivors, particularly those with symptoms of long Covid, is essential to understand the longer course of the illness, as is further exploration of the benefits of rehabilitation programmes for recovery," said professor Bin Cao of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in China, and the lead author of the study, in a statement.

“There is a clear need to provide continued support to a significant proportion of people who’ve had Covid-19, and to understand how vaccines, emerging treatments, and variants affect long-term health outcomes," the scientist added.

While physical and mental health generally improved over time, the researchers found Covid-19 patients tended to have poorer health and quality of life than the general population. The persisting symptoms typically included one or more of the following: fatigue, shortness of breath, and sleep difficulties.

The authors analysed the long-term health outcomes of hospitalised Covid-19 survivors as well as specific health impacts of Long Covid.

The scientists followed 1,192 people hospitalized with Covid at Wuhan’s Jin Yin-tan hospital in early 2020, checking in with them six months, 12 months and two years after their symptoms began.

The participants’ median age was 57, and more than half were men. In the study, their ability to walk six minutes was assessed, they underwent lab tests and they answered questionnaires about symptoms, mental health and quality of life. Some also had their pulmonary function checked and received chest imaging at each visit.

The results suggest time helped to some degree. After six months, 68% of study participants reported at least one symptom of long Covid. By two years, the reports had fallen to 55%. The scientists wrote that they intend to keep following up on the patients once a year.

“The negative effect on quality of life, exercise capacity, and health-care utilization highlights the importance of studying the pathogenesis of long Covid and promoting the exploration of targeted treatment to manage or alleviate the condition," they wrote.

*With inputs from agencies

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