In Wuhan, 76% of COVID-19 patients report symptoms 6 months later
Approximately 76% of patients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, still experienced at least one symptom after 6 months, according to a study published recently in The Lancet.
“These results support that those with severe disease need postdischarge care,” Chaolin Huang, MD, from Jin Yin-tan Hospital, and colleagues wrote. “Longer follow-up studies in a larger population are necessary to understand the full spectrum of health consequences from COVID-19.”
Previously published research showed that approximately 90% of recovered COVID-19 patients continued to report persistent symptoms after an average of 60 days.
In their study, Huang and colleagues examined 1,733 patients with COVID-19 who were discharged from Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan, where the pandemic originated. They included only patients discharged between Jan. 7, 2020, and May 29, 2020. The researchers conducted follow-up visits between June 16, 2020, and Sept. 3, 2020. The median time to follow-up was 186 days.
The researchers interviewed patients with questionnaires to determine their quality of life and symptoms. Patients also had lab tests, physical examination and a 6-minute walking test to measure endurance.
Out of 1,655 participants with data, 1,265 (76%) reported at least one symptom at follow-up, including more women than men. Within the patient groups, the most common persistent symptoms were fatigue or muscle weakness (63%), with 26% of patients having difficulty sleeping and 23% reporting anxiety or depression. Additionally, neutralizing antibody levels declined by 52.5% after 6 months in 94 patients who had their immune response measured at the peak of their infection, which the researchers wrote may raise concerns about reinfection. The patients were a median age of 57 years (interquartile range = 47), and 52% of patients were men.
“The decline of neutralizing antibodies raises concern for SARS-CoV-2 reinfection,” Huang said. “The risk of reinfection should be monitored for patients who present with new symptoms of COVID-19.”