Almost One-Third of Persons With Mild to Moderate, Acute COVID-19 Suffer Long-term Symptoms

A survey of patients previously diagnosed with COVID-19 found that lingering symptoms 7 months after infection were common among otherwise healthy young persons in the outpatient setting. The findings are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers from the Geneva University Hospitals surveyed 629 persons who were a part of Geneva's CoviCare program from 18 March to 15 May 2020 using semi-structured telephone interviews at enrollment and 30 to 45 days and 7 to 9 months from diagnosis to characterize long-term symptoms after COVID-19 infection. Of the 410 patients that completed follow-up at 7 to 9 months after diagnosis, 39.0% reported residual symptoms. These symptoms included fatigue (20.7%), loss of taste or smell (16.8%), shortness of breath (11.7%), and headache (10.0%).

Based on these findings and findings from similar studies, the authors suggest that persons treated on an outpatient basis for mild to moderate COVID-19 should be informed about the potential for long-term effects and physicians should continue to monitor them. Physicians should also be aware of other causes of such symptoms as fatigue, cognitive and neurologic symptoms, and shortness of breath to avoid misinterpretation.