Only 29% of UK Covid hospital patients recover within a year | Coronavirus

Fewer than one in three people who have been hospitalized with Covid-19 have fully recovered a year after they succumbed to infection.

That is the shock finding of a survey into the impact of long Covid in the UK. The team of scientists and doctors at Leicester University also found that women had poorer recovery rates than men after hospitalisation, while obesity was also likely to hinder a person’s prospects of health improvements.

Among the symptoms reported by patients a year after their initial infection were fatigue, muscle pain, poor sleep and breathlessness.

“Given that more than 750,000 people have been hospitalized in the UK with Covid-19 over the past two years, it is clear from our research that the legacy of this disease is going to be huge,” said Rachael Evans, one of the study’s authors.

The team stressed their results show there is now an urgent need to develop ways to tackle long Covid. “Without effective treatments, long Covid could become a highly prevalent long-term condition,” said Professor Chris Brightling, another author.

The research, which will be presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Lisbon on Sunday, involved the analysis of more than 2,000 patients from 39 NHS hospitals who had been admitted after contracting Covid-19. Follow-up assessments of their health were made after five months and then again after one year.

“We found that only 25% of people who had been hospitalized with Covid-19 had fully recovered five months after they had been discharged, a figure that increased only slightly – to 29% – after a year,” said Evans. “That was a very limited rate of recovery in terms of improvements in mental health, organ impairment and quality of life. It was striking.”

Being female, being obese and having had mechanical ventilation while in hospital were all associated with even poorer rates of recovery. “If you are a man, you are more likely to be hospitalized if you get Covid-19 but have a [higher] chance of feeling better when you get out,” added Evans. “We found being female and obese were major risk factors for not recovering after a year.”

A critical factor in these poor rates of recovery was the lack of treatments that exist for long Covid, added Professor Louise Wain, who was also involved in the study. “No specific therapeutics exist for long Covid and our data highlights that effective interventions are urgently required.”

The researchers also found that many of those reporting impairment in the wake of their hospitalization were suffering from persistent inflammation. “That suggests these groups might respond to anti-inflammatory strategies,” added Wain.

The widespread impact of Covid-19 on the health of Britain was underlined last week when the Office for National Statistics published figures suggesting that more than seven in 10 people in England have now been infected with the disease since the start of the pandemic. This estimate, based on testing a sample of more than 500,000 individuals, indicates that 71% of the population in England had caught Covid between 27 April 2020 and 11 February 2022.

However, this figure is likely to be an underestimate, given the impact of the most recent Omicron wave of infections which reached their highest prevalence after February. “The number of infected people was rising rapidly when the data stopped. The bottom line is the majority of people in the UK have had Covid-19,” said Prof James Naismith, the director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute at the University of Oxford.

The ONS also revealed that Covid cases are falling across the country, indicating that the latest wave of the disease has peaked. About 3.8 million people were estimated to be infected last week, compared with a peak of 4.9 million a month ago when case numbers reached their highest level since the pandemic began.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.