More than three quarters of COVID-19 patients have at least one ongoing symptom six months after initially becoming unwell, according to research published in The Lancet.
The cohort study, looking at long-term effects of COVID-19 infection on people hospitalised in Wuhan, China, reveals that the most common symptom to persist is fatigue or muscle weakness (63% of patients), with patients also frequently experiencing sleep difficulties (26%). Anxiety or depression was reported among 23% of patients.
Patients who were severely ill in hospital more often had impaired lung function and abnormalities detected in chest imaging—which could indicate organ damage—six months after symptom onset.
Levels of neutralising antibodies fell by more than half (52.5%) after six months in 94 patients whose immune response was tested at the peak of the infection, raising concerns about the possibility of being re-infected by the virus.