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More than half of Covid-19 patients suffer persistent fatigue

More than half of patients who get coronavirus suffer persistent fatigue, regardless of the seriousness of their infection, an international survey led by a Trinity College scientist has found. 

The researchers found that even 10 weeks after recovering from Covid-19, people reported ongoing tiredness and exhaustion.

The study, led by Dr Liam Townsend from TCD is being presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases' Conference on Coronavirus Disease.

It found that 10 weeks after clinical recovery from Covid-19, 52 per cent of the 128 people in the study reported ongoing fatigue.

The group were typically aged 50 and 54 per cent were female.

A commonly-used scale was used to determine fatigue, while researchers also looked at the severity of the patient's initial infection, pre-existing health conditions and several blood markers.

Of the patients, 71 out of 128 had been admitted to hospital, and 57 were not admitted, but ongoing fatigue levels were the same.

Persistent fatigue

Dr Townsend said: "Fatigue was found to occur independent of admission to hospital, affecting both groups equally."

Although women represented just over half of the patients in the study, two-thirds of those with persistent fatigue (67 per cent) were women.

And while only one person of the 61 (1.6 per cent) without fatigue had a history of anxiety or depression, this proportion was 13.4 per cent (nine out of 67) in those with persistent fatigue.

The authors concluded: "Our findings demonstrate a significant burden of post-viral fatigue in individuals with previous Sars-CoV-2 infection after the acute phase of Covid-19 illness.

"This study highlights the importance of assessing those recovering from Covid-19 for symptoms of severe fatigue, irrespective of severity of initial illness, and may identify a group worthy of further study and early intervention.

"It also supports the use of non-pharmacological interventions for fatigue management.

"These interventions will need to be tailored to the individual needs of the patients, and may include lifestyle modification, cognitive behavioural therapy and self-pacing exercise, where tolerated."