Most COVID-19 survivors have symptoms at 6 months or later

Oct. 14, 2021

A systematic review of 57 studies involving more than 250,000 COVID-19 survivors reveals that 54% still had at least one symptom 6 months or more after initial diagnosis or release from the hospital, according to a news report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota.

In the review, published in JAMA Network Open, a team led by Hershey (Pennsylvania) Medical Center researchers searched the literature from December 2019 through March 2021 for studies on persistent COVID-19–related symptoms diagnosed using lab results, radiologic findings, or clinical signs or symptoms at or after 1 month.

At 1 month (short term), a median of 54% of patients (13 studies) reported at least one long COVID-19 symptom, as did 55% (38) at 2 to 5 months (intermediate term), and 54% (9) at 6 months or more (long term).

The most common symptoms of mental, lung, and neurologic disorders; functional mobility problems; and general and constitutional issues were abnormalities on chest imaging (median, 62.2%; 4 studies), trouble concentrating (23.8%; 4), generalized anxiety disorder (29.6%; 7), general functional impairments (44.0%; 9), and fatigue or muscle weakness (37.5%; 30).

Other such symptoms included general pain (median, 32.4%; 8 studies), fever (0.9%; 16), and muscle pain (12.7%; 13). Cardiac symptoms included chest pain (median, 13.3%; 14 studies) and palpitations (9.3%; 5). Heart attack and heart failure were uncommon.

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