Study reveals factors that could lead to long term COVID-19 issues

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COVID-19 patients who experience at least five symptoms early on are more likely to suffer from lingering issues from the virus, researchers said.

Researchers at King’s College London published the pre-print paper Wednesday in which they looked at the factors that could determine whether someone will still experience symptoms after they recover from the virus, the BBC reported.

The study — which hasn’t been peer-reviewed — looked at self-reported data from 4,182 users of the COVID Symptom Study app who had tested positive for the virus.

Researchers found that one in seven patients feel ill for at least four weeks, while around one in 20 experience symptoms for at least eight weeks, the outlet reported.

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Among the early warning signs for these cases — which have been dubbed “long covid” — were how many symptoms were logged in the app.

“Having more than five different symptoms in the first week was one of the key risk factors,” lead researcher, Dr. Claire Steves told BBC News.

They also found that age was another factor with about 10 percent of the 18 to 49-year-old demographic reporting long-term symptoms, CNBC reported. And that percentage climbed to 22 percent for those over 70.

A physiotherapist takes care of a patient in rehabilitation
A physiotherapist takes care of a patient in rehabilitation as he recovers from an infection with the novel coronavirus at a hospital in Illkirch-Graffenstaden, eastern FranceGetty Images

Gender also appeared to play a role. Women in the younger demographic suffered from “long covid” at a rate of 14.5 percent, while men of the same age did so at 9.5 percent, the report said.

“We’ve seen from the early data coming out that men were at much more risk of very severe disease and sadly of dying from Covid,” Steves said. “It appears that women are more at risk of long Covid.”

Researchers said they’ve used the data to create a model that correctly predicts “long covid” cases about 69 percent of the time.

“We think that’s going to be really important, because then we could identify those people, maybe give them preventative strategies, but also crucially, follow them up and make sure they get the rehabilitation they need,” Steves said.

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