compared to those without a prior infection, individuals with Covid-19 had higher risks of physical problems such as altered taste or smell, malaise after exertion, and shortness of breath (Representative Image: iStock)
A new study published in The British Medical Journal reveals that one in six unvaccinated individuals continue to experience health effects related to Covid-19 up to two years after infection.
The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Zurich and other institutes, examined 1,106 unvaccinated adults who had a confirmed infection between August 6, 2020, and January 19, 2021.
They also studied 628 adults from the general population who had not contracted the virus.
The findings showed that 17 per cent of the participants did not fully recover, and 18 per cent reported Covid-19 related symptoms even 24 months after the initial infection.
On the positive side, 55 per cent of the participants reported returning to normal health within a month after the infection, while 18 per cent experienced recovery within one to three months.
The percentage of unrecovered individuals decreased over time, with 23 per cent at six months, 19 per cent at twelve months, and 17 per cent at twenty-four months.
The study revealed that compared to those without a prior infection, individuals with Covid-19 had higher risks of physical problems such as altered taste or smell, malaise after exertion, and shortness of breath.
Mental health issues like reduced concentration and anxiety were also prevalent among the affected individuals.
The researchers collected information on potential long-term Covid symptoms from the participants at six, 12, 18, and 24 months after infection.
Factors such as age, sex, education, employment, and pre-existing health problems were also considered.
It was found that older individuals and those with existing health conditions were more likely to report persistent or worsened symptoms.
The study has some limitations, including its observational nature and reliance on self-reported health data.
However, the researchers suggest that the regular assessment of various health outcomes and consistent findings from further analyses strengthen the credibility of the estimates.
The authors of the study emphasise that persistent health issues resulting from Covid-19 pose significant challenges to affected individuals and contribute to a burden on population health and healthcare services.
They call for clinical trials to develop effective interventions that can reduce the impact of post-Covid-19 conditions.
While many people recover from the initial phase of the disease, long Covid can have a lasting impact on the quality of life and workability of some individuals, they said.