Two in five complain of long COVID: survey

Symptoms likely persisting in over 1 crore recovered patients, says doctor

Much of India is trying to move past the COVID-19 pandemic, but many people, who have recovered from the infectious disease, are still unable to do so. An online survey conducted by AIG Hospitals shows that over 40% of 2,038 persons continue to suffer from health issues post-recovery with most of them complaining of weakness or fatigue.

Hospital chairman D. Nageshwar Reddy, who presented the survey findings at a virtual press conference on Monday, estimated that over 1 crore of the country’s population who recovered from COVID might still have certain symptoms.

The survey was conducted through multiple social media platforms. A pre-print paper with the findings was sent to an international journal for publication. Of the 5,347 persons who received the link, 2,038 responded.

One of the important conclusions was that post-COVID symptoms — or long COVID as it is being referred to due to the lingering effects — are more often noted in patients who received steroid therapy. Dr Nageshwar Reddy added that oxygen requirement during treatment might not be criteria for post-COVID syndrome, and that patients with all forms of severity — mild, moderate and severe — have complained of health issues even after recovery.

The AG chairman said that COVID- recovered patients who were as young as 30 have consulted them for sudden heart attack. Some others suffered from brain stroke leading to paralysis, lung health, liver injuries and digestive issues, four to six weeks after recovery. Psychological and psychiatric problems, too, were observed.

“Gastrointestinal bacteria changed completely in some people leading to indigestion, or diarrhoea. Similarly, they have developed auto-immune disease. Japanese scientists have calculated 83 types of autoantibodies develop after COVID,” he said at the press conference.

The researchers found that of the 770 hospitalised patients, 264 required oxygen therapy during hospital stay, and 575 received steroid therapy. Citing international guidelines which state that steroids have to be given to people who require oxygen, he pointed out while only one-third of the respondents needed oxygen, two-thirds received steroids.

S. Narsing Rao, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, launched the AIG Hospitals’ Post-COVID Care Clinic as part of the press conference. Dr Nageswar Reddy said they will continue to conduct research into the complications reported by post-COVID patients.

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