1 in 10 COVID-19 Survivors Experience Symptoms 8 Months After Infection

Even with just a mild case of COVID-19, many of the participants reported long-term symptoms that had a negative impact on their life.

A recent study conducted by investigators from Danderyd Hospital and the Karolinska Institute has discovered that 1 in 10 people who had a mild case of COVID-19 experience life impacting symptoms 8 months after their initial infection. Results from the study were published in the journal JAMA,

The study, called the COMMUNITY study, aimed to examine immunity following a COVID-19 infection.

"Despite the fact that the study participants had a mild COVID-19 infection, a relatively large proportion report long-term symptoms with an impact on quality of life,” Sebastian Havervall, deputy chief physician at Danderyd Hospital and PhD student in the project at Karolinska Institutet said. “In light of this, we believe that young and healthy individuals, as well as other groups in society, should have great respect for the virus that seems to be able to significantly impair quality of life, even for a long time after the infection.”

For the study, investigators examined self-reported presence of symptoms from 2,149 employees at Danderyd Hospital. Of those, 323 had a mild case of COVID-19 8 months prior. This group was compared to 1,072 participants who did not have COVID-19 throughout the period the study was conducted.

Findings from the study demonstrated that 26% of those who had an infection with COVID-19 reported at least 1 moderate to severe symptom lasting longer than 2 months. 11% reported that the symptoms had a negative impact on their work, home or social life that lasted at least 8 months.

The most commonly reported symptoms were loss of smell and taste, fatigue, and respiratory issues.

"We investigated the presence of long-term symptoms after mild COVID-19 in a relatively young and healthy group of working individuals, and we found that the predominant long-term symptoms are loss of smell and taste. Fatigue and respiratory problems are also more common among participants who have had COVID-19 but do not occur to the same extent," Charlotte Thålin, specialist physician, and lead researcher for the COMMUNITY study said. "However, we do not see an increased prevalence of cognitive symptoms such as brain fatigue, memory and concentration problems or physical disorders such as muscle and joint pain, heart palpitations or long-term fever."