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COVID-19 patients still have symptoms after 6 months — Report

Medical workers prepare to take oropharyngeal swabs from residents during a mass testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus at a park in Quezon City, suburban Manila on April 15, 2020. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)

By Gabriel Olawale with Agency report

Most patients hospitalized with COVID-19 have at least one symptom six months after falling ill, according to findings from a study in Wuhan, China, where the novel coronavirus first emerged in late 2019.

Doctors there tracked 1,733 patients who were diagnosed and hospitalized between January 2020 and May. Six months later, 76% had at least one symptom including fatigue or muscle weakness (seen in 63%), sleep difficulties and anxiety or depression.

Most of those who had been severely ill had ongoing lung problems and chest abnormalities that could indicate organ damage, while 13% of patients whose kidneys functioned normally in the hospital went on to develop kidney problems later, researchers reported in The Lancet.

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“We are only beginning to understand” some of the long-term effects of COVID-19, study coauthor Bin Cao from the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing said in a statement. “Our analysis indicates that most patients continue to live with at least some of the effects of the virus after leaving the hospital,” highlighting the need for post-discharge care.

Saliva viral load improves prediction of COVID-19 severity

The amount of the new coronavirus in saliva might help guide doctors’ care of patients because it is a better predictor of disease course than viral load in swab samples obtained from the nose and the back of the throat, researchers said.

They studied 26 mildly ill COVID-19 patients, 154 hospitalized patients – including 63 who became critically ill and 23 who eventually died – and 108 uninfected individuals. Saliva viral load, but not nasopharyngeal viral load, was linked with COVID-19 risk factors like age and gender, and with immune system responses.

Saliva viral load was also superior to nasopharyngeal viral load at predicting critical illness and death.

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