Risk of long COVID main symptoms after SARS-CoV-2 infection: a systematic review and meta-analysis

The study “Risk of long COVID main symptoms after SARS-CoV-2 infection: a systematic review and meta-analysis” provides a comprehensive analysis of the risks associated with long COVID.

Here’s a summary:

  1. Study Objective: The review aimed to summarize the relative risk of the main symptoms of long COVID in people infected with SARS-CoV-2 compared to uninfected controls, as well as to assess differences in health-related quality of life (HRQoL) after infection​​.
  2. Key Findings:
    • Elevated Risk of Symptoms: The analysis revealed that infection with SARS-CoV-2 is associated with a significantly higher risk of fatigue (1.72 times), shortness of breath (2.60 times), memory difficulties (2.53 times), and concentration difficulties (2.14 times). These increased risks were observed four or more weeks post-onset of infection​​.
    • Severity of Infection and Long COVID: Studies included in the review found a higher relative risk of long COVID symptoms in patients who were in intensive care units (ICUs), had severe infections, or were non-hospitalized but had previous healthcare use and comorbidities​​.
    • Symptom Prevalence and Risk Factors: The review confirms that SARS-CoV-2 infection, including non-severe infections, is linked to increased risks of developing mid- and long-term symptoms. However, long COVID symptoms are also common in the general population and can be exacerbated by other illnesses, infections, and pandemic-related stresses​​.
    • Sensitivity Analyses: Sensitivity analyses, including studies with outcomes reported 12 weeks after infection, showed similar risks for fatigue and shortness of breath. Interestingly, the risk of memory problems was slightly higher in these analyses, but not significantly different. The analysis also indicated that vaccination may lower the risk of long COVID, although this finding was not conclusive​​.
    • Impact of Vaccination and Variants: There is evidence that vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 may decrease the risk of long COVID. Additionally, the Omicron variant has been associated with a lower risk of long COVID compared to the Delta variant, especially in vaccinated individuals​​.
  3. Conclusion: The study highlights the substantial risk of persistent symptoms following COVID-19 infection. It underscores the importance of ongoing research to understand the impact of vaccination and different variants on long COVID development and severity.

These findings contribute significantly to the understanding of long COVID, emphasizing the need for continued research and the development of effective treatment strategies for those affected by persistent post-infection symptoms.

Read More: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41392-023-01717-9

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