The long Covid would not last more than a year, according to a study

The long Covid would not last more than a year, according to a study

Since the start of the pandemic, millions of people around the world have described persistent symptoms after contamination with Covid-19. To the astonishment of doctors and scientists, faced with a wide range of effects of this new virus about which everything was yet to be discovered. But a long Covid, how long does it last? A few weeks, a few months or more? Three years after the discovery of the coronavirus, scientists begin to have enough perspective to get an idea.

According to a study published this Thursday in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), “most symptoms or conditions that develop after a mild Covid-19 infection persist for several months, but return to normal within a year.” depending on the contamination.

“The vast majority of patients will be fine after a year”

In practice, a prolonged Covid translates into the persistence of symptoms or the appearance of new ones, more than four weeks after an initial infection. And “according to a previous study published last year on the long duration of Covid and the sequelae of the virus, more than a year later, more than a third of patients still suffered from symptoms related to Covid-19”, recalls Dr. Benjamin Davido, an infectious disease specialist and a Covid-19 crisis doctor at the Raymond-Poincaré hospital in Garches (Hauts-de-Seine).

And patients suffering from long-standing Covid, the infectologist received many at the beginning of the pandemic. “The first consultations in 2020 for persistent symptoms referred to patients who could not be tested because screening was not available to everyone at the beginning of the pandemic, he recalls. We get patients who are concerned about experiencing symptoms beyond six weeks and who were concerned. The patients were checked regularly and “at six months, a certain number were better, at one year, in general, they were cured or with residual symptoms”, confirms the infectologist.

Maytal Bivas-Benita, a researcher at Israel’s KI Research Institute and co-author of the study, said she was “encouraged” by the results, amid fears about how long symptoms might persist. “The vast majority of patients will be fine after a year, and I think that’s good news,” she said.

Less long Covids with Omicron

“These results suggest that, although the phenomenon of long-term covid has been feared and discussed since the beginning of the pandemic, the vast majority of cases of mild infection do not suffer from severe or chronic long-term symptoms,” the researchers explain. , which reviewed the electronic records database of Israel’s second-largest health insurance fund, Maccabi Healthcare Services, whose nearly two million members were tested for Covid-19 between March 1, 2020, and September 1. 2020. October 1, 2021.

In addition, “with the new variants and subvariants of the Omicron era, long Covid is half as present as with the previous strains, according to most prevalence studies, points out Dr. Davido. Probably because Omicron initially generates forms that are usually less symptomatic, or even asymptomatic, so it’s quite logical.”

Thus, in consultation, “we are still less requested due to this long covid problem since the arrival of Omicron. And probably also, as this new study demonstrates, because several cases dating back to the start of the pandemic eventually recovered from these lingering symptoms. Even if there certainly remains a hard core of extremely sick people away from your infection. Instead, we no longer have this influx of long Covid patients from Omicron.”

The protective effect of vaccination.

But it is not only Omicron that explains this phenomenon. The results also show that “vaccinated people were less exposed to the risk of respiratory difficulties – the most common effect observed in cases of mild disease – than unvaccinated people,” the study authors specify.

“It has been proven: vaccination reduces the probability of getting infected by up to 45%, and would reduce the risk of long Covid by 30%, which is very positive, says Dr. Davido. The vaccine would even have a curative action in certain cases: it is estimated that vaccination, by stimulating the production of neutralizing antibodies at very high levels, allows the clearance of the Spike protein”. Clearly: it would allow the organism to develop the capacity to eliminate the virus lodged in the cells, ridding the patient of his persistent symptoms.

uncertain times ahead

So, with a free-falling vaccine withdrawal rate in France, should we fear a setback with a rise in contamination and a new explosion in long-standing Covid cases? “The current Chinese scenario, with a colossal number of infections in a poorly vaccinated population, increases the risk of a new variant appearing, fears Dr. Davido. And there, the cascading risk, is a very strong new wave in France, in a population that has not withdrawn vaccines and is losing its immunity. Mathematically, this would generate new cases of long Covid. We tend to forget the benefit of the vaccine: since its arrival, the face of the pandemic in France is no longer the same. However, nobody wants to return the load of a long form that can last months or even more.

By September, at least 17 million people in Europe had suffered from long-term covid in the first two years of the pandemic, according to models from the World Health Organization.

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