Episode #19 – COVID-19- Prolonged symptoms after COVID -19

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Summary

Media www.rajawalisiber.com  – Are you experiencing symptoms after recovery from COVID-19? WHO’s Dr Janet Diaz explains what we know so for about prolonged symptoms in Science in 5.

 

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Transcript

Vismita Gupta-Smith

Welcome to Science in 5. I’m Vismita Gupta-Smith and this is WHO’s conversations in science. Many people experience several symptoms, even after recovering from COVID-19. Here to talk about that is WHO’s  Dr. Janet Diaz. Welcome, Janet.

Dr. Janet Diaz

Thank you so much. I’m happy to be here.

Vismita Gupta-Smith

Janet, many people, even after they recover, are experiencing certain symptoms. What do we know about these symptoms?

Dr. Janet Diaz

We have known that patients who get severely ill with COVID-19, those that end up in the hospital, those that go to intensive care, that those patients could develop something known as post-intensive care syndrome. That syndrome has been described well before COVID in patients who’ve been critically ill. And so, we are seeing those types of prolonged symptoms and functional limitations in patients who’ve been critically ill with COVID-19. That includes people who have a persistent cough, who have persistent shortness of breath, perhaps some physical limitations due to being critically ill and in bed for a long time, as well as, potentially cognitive issues as well, after being so sick. And so, we are concerned about that type of post-intensive care syndrome, that we will see with patients after acute COVID-19 hospitalization. There are also smaller reports, and this is something that we need really to understand better, of patients who were not hospitalized, that means patients who are mildly ill. There are reports that those patients have continued to have some protracted symptoms, such as coughing, such as some shortness of breath, such as some trouble with breathing, some extensive symptoms of fatigue. So, there is a concern there that needs to be much better understood about for those patients that were mild and potentially without risk factors.

Vismita Gupta-Smith

So clearly, Janet, evidence is still coming in and we’re learning more about these symptoms. How long do we know do these symptoms last?

Dr. Janet Diaz

Again, it’s an excellent question but unfortunately we do not know. Again, we can extrapolate from when I was talking about the hospitalized patients, those that were severely ill or critically ill, spent time in intensive care. We know from studies in non-COVID patients, that those critically ill patients may have symptoms to up to six months or even one year after that hospitalization, that post-intensive care syndrome. So, that can be quite prolonged. For those patients now that were mild, that may have protracted symptoms, we really don’t have enough information to say how long those symptoms may persist after the acute illness.

Vismita Gupta-Smith

Janet, what do we know so far about what proportion of patients, COVID patients, get these symptoms even after recovery?

Dr. Janet Diaz

So, I don’t have a good proportion to share right now because the studies that have been done are relatively small. So, we can’t generalize that to the entire population with COVID. But again, if I go back to the post-intensive care syndrome, from what we know about patients who’ve been critically ill with other diseases, and if we indirectly apply that to patients who have had COVID-19 and been very sick in the hospital, it could be up to 50% of those patients may have some sort of functional limitation, as I described before, at the six month mark. So, again, we don’t know the total proportion or the total numbers of patients, but it is very concerning with the total numbers affected with SARS-CoV-2, you know, infected, that that number may be a relatively large.

Vismita Gupta-Smith

Janet, so what is the takeaway here?

Dr. Janet Diaz

Well, I think the takeaway, the most important one is prevention. I think we need to continue to prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, in order to prevent any acute infection, with SARS-CoV-2 or any illness such as COVID-19. If we prevent the acute disease, we will not have persistent symptoms, right? So, I think that’s the number one. The number two is that, we need to understand better how many people will suffer from prolonged symptoms; how many of those people are the people are from the hospital, that will have the post-intensive care syndrome; and also, how many of those people are the younger people that may have more mild illness but still suffer from protracted symptoms, that may cause them limitations in their quality of life.

Vismita Gupta-Smith

Thank you, Janet. That was Science in 5 today. Until next time then. Stay safe, stay healthy and stick with science.

 

 

Speaker key

Vismita   Vismita Gupta-Smith

Janet  Dr. Janet Diaz

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