Half of Covid patients in Irish study suffer ongoing fatigue

More than half of patients and staff with Covid-19 monitored by an Irish hospital suffered persistent fatigue in the aftermath of the initial disease, according to a new study Friday highlighting the “significant burden” of lingering symptoms.

It comes as patient groups and doctors call for more research into the medium- and long-term effects of the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which has sickened more than 30 million people across the world and killed at least 943,000.

“Whilst the presenting features of SARS-CoV-2 infection have been well-characterised, the medium- and long-term consequences of infection remain unexplored,” said Liam Townsend, of St James’s Hospital and Trinity Translational Medicine Institute at Trinity College Dublin.

The study, which tracked 128 participants at St James’s Hospital, found that 52 percent reported persistent fatigue when they were assessed an average of 10 weeks after “clinical recovery” from infection, regardless of how serious their initial infection was.

The preliminary study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, included 71 people who had been admitted to hospital and 57 employees of the hospital who had mild illness. The average age was 50 and all participants had tested positive for Covid-19.

Researchers looked at a variety of potential factors, including the severity of the initial illness and pre-existing conditions, including depression.

They found that it made no difference whether a patient had been hospitalised or not.

However, they did find that women, despite making up just over half of the participants (54 percent), accounted for two-thirds of those with persistent fatigue (67 percent).

Those with a previous history of anxiety or depression were also found to be more likely to have fatigue.

The authors said the findings showed that more work was needed to assess the impact of Covid-19 on patients in the longer term.

“Our findings demonstrate a significant burden of post-viral fatigue in individuals with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection after the acute phase of Covid-19 illness,” they concluded. (AFP | Kelly MACNAMARA)

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