The vast majority of patients (90%) suffering from long-term COVID see their symptoms improve slowly after two years, the others experiencing rapid improvement or, on the contrary, persistence of their disorders, a study reports on Friday.
This study was conducted by Dr.r Viet-Thi Tran, epidemiologist (Paris Cité University / AP-HP), with 2197 patients from the “ComPare” cohort suffering from long-term COVID, followed regularly. His results were published in the journal International Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, intermittent fever, loss of taste or smell, difficulty concentrating, depression… long COVID is manifested by one or more symptoms from a long list, usually within three months after infection and persistent at least two months.
It is not a single “disease”, but a complex syndrome resulting from multiple often intertwined mechanisms, which explains the complex and often heterogeneous clinical picture of patients, recalls the AP-HP in a press release. According to the study, about 90% of people with long-term COVID are still reporting symptoms a year after their initial infection.
The researchers were able to identify three trajectories in the patients. The overwhelming majority (91%) had a slow improvement in their symptoms over time (with an average reduction of around 25% in the number of symptoms reported within two years of onset).
About 4% of patients had a rapid improvement in their symptoms (with complete remission of symptoms within two years of onset). Compared with the other patients, these people were younger and had no history of functional disease (chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, etc.). These patients more frequently presented with neck, back and lumbar pain and digestive symptoms during their acute illness.
About 5% of patients, on the other hand, had significant and persistent symptoms over time. These patients were generally older, smokers and had a history of autoimmune disease. They more frequently presented symptoms such as tachycardia, bradycardia, palpitations, arrhythmias, hot flushes, sweating and intolerance to cold and heat, during their acute illness.
These results will make it possible to better inform patients of the evolution of their long COVID and to better estimate the needs of the health system to meet the challenge of long COVID, welcomes the AP-HP.