Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors


Half of long COVID patients show symptoms at 2 years

Written by | 8 Jul 2022 | COVID-19

Researchers report that two years after diagnosis half of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 have at least one ongoing symptom.

The findings appeared in on May 11, 2022 in Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Lead author Professor Bin Cao, of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in  Beijing, said “Our findings indicate that for a certain proportion of hospitalised COVID-19 survivors, while they may have cleared the initial infection, more than two years is needed to recover fully from COVID-19. Ongoing follow-up of COVID-19 survivors, particularly those with symptoms of long COVID, is essential to understand the longer course of the illness, as is further exploration of the benefits of rehabilitation programmes for recovery. “

The investigators enrolled subjects who had survived hospitalization with COVID-19 and who had been discharged from Jin Yin-tan Hospital (Wuhan, China) between Jan 7 and May 29, 2020.

They analyzed health outcomes at 6 months (June 16–Sept 3, 2020), 12 months (Dec 16, 2020–Feb 7, 2021), and 2 years (Nov 16, 2021–Jan 10, 2022) after diagnosis.

They used a 6-min walking distance test, laboratory tests, and a series of questionnaires on symptoms, mental health, health-related quality of life, return to work, and health-care use after discharge.

“Age-matched, sex-matched, and comorbidities-matched participants without COVID-19 infection (controls) were introduced to determine the recovery status of COVID-19 survivors at 2 years,” the authors noted.

The investigators reported that 1192 COVID survivors completed assessments at the three follow-up visits. They were included in the final analysis. The median age at hospital discharge was 57 years, and 54% (n=641) were men.

At 6 months from diagnosis, 68% (777/1,149) of participants reported at least one long COVID symptom. At two years, the number fell to 55% (650/1,190).

The subjects frequently reported fatigue or muscle weakness, with 52% doing so (593/1,151) at six months to 30% (357/1,190) at two years.

Almost half of the COVID subjects (650/1,190) continued to have symptoms of long COVID at two years.

At 2 years, the subjects were generally in poorer health than the general population, with 31% (351/1,127) reporting fatigue or muscle weakness and 31% (354/1,127) reporting sleep problems. In the comparator group of non-COVID subjects, the proportion reporting the same problems was 5% (55/1,127) and 14% (153/1,127), respectively.

Long COVID subjects were also more likely to report problems with mobility (5% [33/650]) or activity levels (4% [24/540]) than those without long COVID (1% [8/540] and 2% [10/540], respectively).

In terms of mental health, the investigators found that, among subjects with long COVID, 13% (83/650) had symptoms of anxiety and 11% (70/649) had symptoms of depression. For non-COVID subjects the proportions were 3% (15/536) and 1% (5/540), respectively.

The authors concluded, “Regardless of initial disease severity, COVID-19 survivors had longitudinal improvements in physical and mental health, with most returning to their original work within 2 years; however, the burden of symptomatic sequelae remained fairly high. COVID-19 survivors had a remarkably lower health status than the general population at 2 years. The study findings indicate that there is an urgent need to explore the pathogenesis of long COVID and develop effective interventions to reduce the risk of long COVID.”

Newsletter Icon

Subscribe for our mailing list

If you're a healthcare professional you can sign up to our mailing list to receive high quality medical, pharmaceutical and healthcare E-Mails and E-Journals. Get the latest news and information across a broad range of specialities delivered straight to your inbox.


You can unsubscribe at any time using the 'Unsubscribe' link at the bottom of all our E-Mails, E-Journals and publications.