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expert reaction to study looking at post–COVID-19 symptoms 2 years after SARS-CoV-2 infection

A study published in JAMA Network Open looks at post–COVID-19 symptoms 2 years after SARS-CoV-2 infection among hospitalised vs non-hospitalised patients.


Prof Fergus Gleeson, Professor of Radiology, University of Oxford, said:

“I think this paper offers some hope to the Post COVID community, in that some of their symptoms do appear to improve over time. Ourselves and others are currently working with participants suffering from Long COVID, with trials funded by the NIHR to help determine the cause of their ongoing symptoms, and will also be able to report back on the change they experience over time.”


Prof Daniel Altmann, Professor of Immunology, Imperial College London, said:

“This Spanish study conducted phone interviews with people aged around 60 who’d had Covid-19 during the first wave. They compared those who’d been hospitalised with those who were not, asking them at 2-years if they still had symptoms. They came up with high numbers – 60% in the hospitalised group, about 68% in the non-hospitalised group. So if we extrapolated this to chances of Long Covid in all who have ever had COVID-19, the numbers would be huge, far worse than any of us anticipated up to now. We should certainly find this scary. However, there are a few points to bear in mind: over 60s aren’t necessarily representative of the effects across all ages ranges, these were ‘first-wavers’ who got infected in that awful period before there was any protection from vaccines, and during the first wave the distinction between ‘hospitalised’ and ‘at home’ could sometimes be nuanced – that is, many forced to stay home were actually extremely unwell. A good way to think about the impact of these huge numbers is to consider the relationship to the ONS-reported Long Covid numbers in the UK. We have a vast number with persistent symptoms, hovering above 2-million defined as Long Covid, but this covers a range of severity with a devastating  340,000 significantly disabled and finding it hard to function as before. All in all, I take a study such as this one from Spain to mean we may have been under-counting Long Covid. For every person who struggles to see a GP and maybe get a referral to Long Covid clinic, how many are there who saw no point, or just brushed their new symptoms aside with a bit of ‘ah well, we’re none of us getting any younger. Counted or not, the long-term impact on our health, our workforce, our economy, our quality of life will be huge for some years to come.”



Post–COVID-19 Symptoms 2 Years After SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Hospitalized vs Nonhospitalized Patients’ by César Fernández-de-las-Peñas et al. was published in JAMA Network Open at 16:00 UK Time Tuesday 15 November 2022.

DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.42106



Declared interests

Prof Daniel Altmann has received honorarium payments for consultancy work with AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Oxford Immunotec. DMA is co-author of the Penguin Handbook of Long Covid.

For all other experts, no reply to our request for DOIs was received.

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