Everything we know about ‘LONG COVID’ – a syndrome featuring never-ending COVID-19 symptoms

The WHO's definition of Long Covid concluded that the syndrome generally impacts everyday functioning, and a different meaning may apply to children.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently issued a definition for “Long Covid,” a term used to describe the persistent health problems that affect some survivors of Covid-19. Scientists haven’t fully understood the syndrome, but we’ve put together a summary of everything they know about Long Covid so far.

WHO’s definition of Long COVID

The WHO defines long COVID as:

A condition with at least one symptom that usually begins within three months from the onset of confirmed or probable infection with the coronavirus persisting for at least two months. Another diagnosis cannot explain it. Symptoms may start during the condition or appear for the first time after the patient has recovered from acute illness.

The most common persistent symptoms of Long Covid include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cognitive problems

Other symptoms of Long Covid include:

  • Chest pain
  • Problems with smell or taste
  • Muscle weakness
  • Heart palpitations.

The WHO’s definition of Long Covid concluded that the syndrome generally impacts everyday functioning, and a different meaning may apply to children. It should be noted that since scientists are still researching the condition, the definition may evolve pertaining to new evidence.

Symptoms of Long Covid

How common is long COVID?

An Oxford University study unveiled that 37% of 270,000 Covid-19 survivors showed at least one long-term symptom, with symptoms more frequent among people who had required hospitalization. A Harvard University study involving more than 52,000 Covid-19 survivors whose infections had been only mild or asymptomatic suggested that Long Covid conditions may more often affect patients under age 65. However, the exact number of affected people is still unknown.

Conclusions made by Long Covid studies

In a study published in the Lancet, Chinese researchers reported: 

Twelve months after leaving the hospital, 20% to 30% of patients who had been moderately ill and up to 54% of those critically ill were still having lung problems.

The Harvard study stated:

New diagnoses of diabetes and neurological disorders are more common among those with a history of Covid-19 than those without the infection.

Do people recover from long COVID?

According to researchers, many symptoms of Long Covid resolve over time, regardless of the severity of the initial Covid-19 disease. A study published in Lancet said:

The proportion of patients still experiencing at least one symptom fell from 68% at six months to 49% at 12 months.

Speaking about Long Covid, the WHO said:

Long Covid symptoms can change with time and return after showing initial improvement.

Heading: Long Covid

The efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines against Long Covid

Studies have suggested that some people with Long Covid experienced an improvement in their symptoms after being vaccinated. However, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more research is needed to determine the effects of vaccination on post-Covid conditions.

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