Most patients who had been hospitalized with COVID-19 still suffered a variety of symptoms — including fatigue and sleep difficulties — six months after infection, a Chinese study has found.
The study of more than 1,700 patients treated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the original epicenter of the pandemic, shows 76% suffered at least one symptom months after they were discharged from the hospital.
Medical staff members carry a patient into the Jinyintan hospital in Wuhan on January 18, 2020.
The findings indicate that even people who recover from COVID-19 could suffer long-lasting health impacts from their bout with the coronavirus, which has infected more than 90 million people worldwide.
The study, the largest of its kind yet carried out, published Friday in the medical journal The Lancet. It found that fatigue and sleep difficulties were the most common post-Covid-19 symptoms, occurring in 63% and 26% of the patients, respectively, six months after the onset of their initial diagnosis.
The disease could also have long-lasting psychological complications, with anxiety or depression reported among 23% of the patients, the study found.
Patients who were more severely ill tended to have continued evidence of lung damage on X-rays, according to the researchers.
“Because COVID-19 is such a new disease, we are only beginning to understand some of its long-term effects on patients’ health,” Dr. Bin Cao of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital and Capital Medical University, who led the study team, said in a statement.
“Our analysis indicates that most patients continue to live with at least some of the effects of the virus after leaving the hospital, and highlights a need for post-discharge care, particularly for those who experience severe infections. Our work also underscores the importance of conducting longer follow-up studies in larger populations in order to understand the full spectrum of effects that Covid-19 can have on people,” the statement said.