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Around 10% of health care workers who had COVID-19 experienced long-term symptoms: study

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Stockholm — More than 1 out of 10 health care workers who developed relatively mild cases of COVID-19 were still experiencing at least one moderate to severe symptom eight months later, results of a recent study out of Sweden show.

Researchers followed nearly 1,400 health care workers at Danderyd Hospital in Stockholm who enlisted in the COVID-19 Biomarker and Immunity (COMMUNITY) study between April 15 and May 8, 2020. Every four months, blood samples were taken from the participants, most of whom were women and considered low risk for severe COVID-19.

Overall, 323 participants experienced a mild case of COVID-19, and 11% of them had at least one debilitating symptom that lasted eight months or longer. The most common symptoms reported were loss of taste and/or smell, fatigue and breathing problems. The researchers note that these symptoms disrupted the workers’ work, social and home lives.

Increases in other symptoms that have been linked to the disease, such as brain fog, heart palpitations, issues with memory or attention, and muscle and joint pain, however, weren’t reported by the group.

 

In a blog post on the National Institute of Health’s website, agency Director Francis Collins writes that these results are a reminder that the disease “can and, in fact, is having a devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of adults who are at low risk for developing severe and life-threatening” cases. He adds that NIH is investing more than $1 billion to research long-term COVID-19 symptoms.

The study was published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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