What Are the Long-term Effects of Covid-19?

Date: 2020-08-11 01:01:35

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Researchers want to know the long-term effects of Covid-19 on recovered patients. Dr. David Darley is a respiratory physician at St Vincent’s hospital in Sydney who is co-leading a study of about 100 Covid-19 patients to try to get some answers.

He explains that there are different disease severities.

“What we’re studying at the moment is the patients who had mild symptoms and then the patients who had severe Covid. Anybody who has to go to ICU for a period of time, many of them get a condition called PICS, post-intensive care syndrome. And it’s characterized by weakness. Sometimes patients need rehabilitation. Fortunately, in many cases, that syndrome is reversible. If anyone experienced complications during their stay, they may never reach their former baseline level of functioning.”

David expects there will be a reasonable burden on the kind of specialties that look after post-infectious, post-ICU patients.

“So we’re talking about the rehab specialists, the rehab units, the physios, OTs, social workers. Speech pathologists we often contact if patients have breathing tubes in their vocal cords. And they can often have hoarseness for a while and we need speech paths involved. If we’re talking about even short to medium-term problems, it’s more economic burden on the health-care system, resource burden. It’s taking patients away from their regular roles in terms of employment and in roles as carers. There’s a broader economic problem which follows the health problem.”

In most people, the virus causes mild symptoms or none at all — at least at the time they have the virus. But even asymptomatic patients may suffer lingering effects.

“Even the patients who didn’t need to be hospitalized, some are still complaining of symptoms 3 or 4 months down the track. And, you know, these symptoms can be disabling for people, especially if you’re in a profession where you need to be at the top of your game physiologically. The whole aim of our study is to work out why this is happening, what the impairments are and what patients need.”

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