90% of long Covid patients have not regained full health

The study was conducted by APC Microbiome Ireland, a world-leading SFI research centre based at the university, in conjunction with Cork University Hospital (CUH) and Long Covid Advocacy Ireland.
90% of long Covid patients have not regained full health

The survey was produced in a researcher-clinician-patient partnership involving Professor Liam O’Mahony, APC principal investigator and UCC professor of immunology, Dr Corinna Sadlier, consultant in infectious diseases at CUH, and Tanja Buwalda, long Covid sufferer and representative of ‘Long Covid Advocacy Ireland’.

A new study from UCC has found that almost 90% of people with long Covid have still not returned to their pre-Covid level of health.

The study was conducted by APC Microbiome Ireland, a world-leading SFI research centre based at the university, in conjunction with Cork University Hospital (CUH) and Long Covid Advocacy Ireland. 988 participants contributed to the study, where the average (median) number of long Covid symptoms reported by each participant was eight, and the average time since initial Covid-19 infection being 12 months.

The study found that more than two-thirds of participants continue to experience fatigue, post-exertional malaise, palpitations, chest pain, stomach upset or nausea, memory problems, muscle pain or joint pain. A high proportion of patients reported that they still have a moderate-to- severe limitation in their ability to carry out daily activities. Nearly four in 10 people were severely limited in their ability to work, and six in 10 have missed workdays due to long Covid symptoms. Some 16% of respondents were unable to work at the time of the survey due to long Covid and were receiving social welfare supports.

The survey was produced in a researcher-clinician-patient partnership involving Professor Liam O’Mahony, APC principal investigator and UCC professor of immunology, Dr Corinna Sadlier, consultant in infectious diseases at CUH, and Tanja Buwalda, long Covid sufferer and representative of ‘Long Covid Advocacy Ireland’.

Prof O’Mahony said the survey highlights that Covid-19 can have “significant long-term effects on multiple organ systems”, even after the initial infection has been cleared, and in Irish people who were otherwise healthy previously. He said the majority of people surveyed had a mild-moderate severity of initial Covid-19 disease, and did not require hospital treatment then.

Dr Sadlier said there is a “clear and compelling need for dedicated cross-disciplinary specialist services to treat long Covid patients”.

Ms Buwalda said the study “clearly shows that long Covid demands urgent national attention from the Government and health system”.

“Thousands of people are suffering needlessly because they do not have access to multidisciplinary clinics or effective treatments.

“With recent waves of new infections, we should expect even more long Covid illnesses to arise. We feel that tackling this large and ongoing problem requires a collaborative approach,” she said.

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