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‘Long COVID’ or ‘post-COVID’ symptoms affect 1 in 4 older people who survived infection, study finds

'Long COVID' or 'post-COVID' symptoms affect 1 in 4 older people who survived infection, study finds
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As many as one in four older adults and one in five adults under the age of 65 experienced “long COVID” or “post-COVID” symptoms after surviving a coronavirus infection, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study – published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report – is the latest to try to quantify how many of the millions of Americans who have now tested positive for the virus are deal with long-term problems caused by their infection.

By comparing electronic health records in a large national database of patients, the study authors found that 38.2% of COVID-19 survivors “experienced at least one incident condition” – a list that includes heart, lung, kidney and gastrointestinal problems, pain , fatigue, loss of smell or taste, mental health issues, and more – in the months after their infection. In contrast, only 16% of other people have been diagnosed with such conditions.

“As the cumulative number of people who have previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2 increases, the number of survivors with post-COVID conditions is also likely to increase,” the study authors wrote.

The study only looked at data from March 2020 to November 2021, before the massive surge of the Omicron variant over the winter. Based on antibody investigationsthe CDC estimates that the share of Americans who survived the virus rose to nearly 60% over the winter, from one-third in December.

From 26 ailments examined by the study, the most common symptoms were “respiratory symptoms and musculoskeletal pain” in the elderly and other adults.

Among people aged 65 and over, the researchers warned they were at “increased risk of neurological disorders” and other mental health problems ranging from mood disorders to substance abuse.

Another study also published this week, by scientists at Northwestern University, reported that many so-called “long haulers” faced conditions such as brain fog and numbness for more than a year after their initial infection.


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The CDC study authors also note that certain factors could complicate their estimates.

For example, doctors may have been “more likely to document possible post-COVID conditions” among people who survived the virus, leading to an overestimate of the risk of these symptoms.

On the other hand, the comparison of the study with others without previous infection was drawn from other patients who were “seeking care”. This could lead to an underestimate of the actual elevated risk by an infection, the study authors said, since these others may actually be “sicker” than a true control group.

Previous studies have reached variable estimates from survivors dealing with long COVID symptoms. Some of this may be the result of the wide range of ways scientists have defined post-COVID in their studies, looking at different time intervals since infection or different symptoms.

“You see numbers there like 30, 50%. I think that’s clearly not quite fair in terms of thinking about how many people are really disabled by this in a significant way,” Dr Ashish said. Jha, the top White House COVID-19 official. Official 19, Says “In the Bubble” Podcast earlier this month.

“But having said that, what it means, unfortunately, is that other people are downplaying the long COVID,” Jha added.

The latest report is part of several ongoing studies the CDC supported with the aim of understanding the impact of post-COVID symptoms.

The CDC has revamped its post-COVID guidelines earlier this month, adding conditions such as “depression or anxiety” to the list of commonly reported symptoms. The agency also compiled a list of reasons why some people might be at higher risk after surviving COVID-19, such as those who faced more severe illness or were not vaccinated.

However, the guide notes that more research — including both from the CDC and elsewhere at the national institutes of health – remains to be done on how to treat these post-COVID patients.

Defenders said recently that they are in talks with the Biden administration on lengthy COVID plans to be released in August. The NIH said he plans to launch studies this year testing potential drugs to treat post-COVID conditions.

“I think we need to start trying new therapies. I’m interested in questions like, does Paxlovid reduce your likelihood of long COVID. Because if you have a much shorter duration of viremia, will that it make a difference?” Jha said.


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