American Study Finds That a Fifth of Asymptomatic COVID-19 Patients Develop ‘Long COVID’

American Study Finds That a Fifth of Asymptomatic COVID-19 Patients Develop ‘Long COVID’

A study by the American non-profit organization, FAIR Health, analyzed insurance claims from nearly 1.96 million citizens to ascertain the number of patients suffering from ‘long-COVID’, also known as ‘COVID long-haulers’. 

The study found that nearly a fifth of COVID-19 patients with no symptoms were showing signs that are similar to long COVID, even a month after the initial diagnosis. The study analyzed patients between February 2020 and February 2021. 

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FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd said, “Even as the Covid-19 pandemic wanes, long-haul Covid persists as a public health issue affecting many Americans.”

“The findings in our new study shed significant light on this emerging issue for all individuals who have long-haul COVID, as well as for policymakers, providers, payors and researchers,” she added.

As per the study, among the most common post-infection conditions across all age groups were general pain, breathing difficulties, high cholesterol levels, general discomfort, fatigue, and high blood pressure. 

Moreover, the chances of dying around 30 days after being diagnosed with COVID-19 was 46 times higher for patients who were hospitalized and discharged as compared to individuals that didn’t require hospitalization. The study found that 0.5 per cent of COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized and discharged died in 30 days or more following the diagnosis.  

Separately, 19 per cent of asymptomatic COVID-19 patients reportedly witnessed long COVID symptoms 30 days after a positive test, whereas the percentage rose to 27.5 per cent among patients who were symptomatic but didn’t require hospitalization, and 50 per cent among those hospitalized.

What is Long COVID?

Long COVID or post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 is a phenomenon wherein the symptoms of the coronavirus lasts for more than four weeks after the diagnosis. There have been several cases illustrating this condition since the pandemic began, though health experts are at a loss as to how to remedy this or even figure out how it’s caused. 

“Theories include persistent immune activation after the acute phase; initial damage from the virus, such as damage to nerve pathways, that is slow to heal; and persistent presence of low-level virus,” the study went on to say.

It’s worth noting that a bulk of the long COVID patients were women, while a majority of the men experienced cardiac inflammation. Overall, cardiac inflammation was spotted in 52 per cent of the cases among men as compared to 48 per cent in women. 

The study also looked into mental health conditions suffered by coronavirus patients, with the most common being anxiety, depression, varied adjustment disorders, and tic disorder.

Despite the amount of data, the study didn’t have a control group of individuals that never caught the virus. This would have allowed the experts to better understand if these conditions were spurred on by COVID-19 or if they were merely a coincidence.

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