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Death unlikely, but Covid will remain a threat years after infection

By Vaseline May30,2024

New research into the long-term effects of Covid-19 paints a mixed picture, offering both worrying and reassuring insights into the virus’s lingering health effects years later.

The worrying news is that Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital within the first 30 days of infection face a 29% higher risk of death in the third year compared to those who never had the virus, according to the study from Washington University and the VA. St. Louis Healthcare System.

Even people with mild cases of Covid-19 were found to experience new health problems linked to the infection three years later, according to research published in Nature Medicine.

“Covid-19 continues to teach us that a brief, seemingly innocent or benign encounter with the virus can still lead to health problems years later,” said senior author Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, a clinical epidemiologist.

The researchers measured the years of healthy life lost due to COVID-19. (Photo: Getty)

However, the study also produced some reassuring findings. The increased risk of mortality decreases significantly one year after infection among people who are not hospitalized – responsible for most COVID-19 cases.

In the third year after infection, non-hospitalized patients had only a 5% increased risk of long-term Covid effects, which mainly affected the gastrointestinal, pulmonary and neurological systems. This translates into 41 additional health problems per 1,000 people – a small but notable burden.

For hospitalized Covid-19 patients, the increased health risk across all organ systems fell from 182% one year after infection to 34% in the third year, showing an improving trajectory over time.

The researchers measured the years of healthy life lost due to Covid-19. Among non-hospitalized cases, there were 10 years lost per 1,000 people three years after infection. For hospitalized patients, as many as 90 years of healthy life were lost per 1,000 people during the same period.

“That a mild infection can lead to new health problems three years later is sobering,” Al-Aly said, noting that the burden is “astronomically higher” for severe cases.

While acknowledging limitations such as not considering subsequent variants, Al-Aly emphasized the lingering effects of the virus. ‘Maybe even in three years’ time
Covid-19 forgotten, but Covid has not forgotten you,” he warned.

The study highlights the need for continued monitoring and support for long-term Covid patients, even years after their initial infection, to tackle the persistent and far-reaching health consequences of the virus.

Published by:

Sibu Kumar Tripathi

Published on:

May 30, 2024

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