At the beginning of 2020, many specialists assured that it would be difficult to know the true impact of COVID-19 on the population.
Almost two years after the start of the pandemic, different studies provide data that allow us to better understand this situation. One of the most recent, published in Frontiers in Medicine, found that COVID survivors are at increased risk of death.
In order to understand the impact of COVID-19 on long-term health, a group of researchers from the University of Florida analyzed electronic medical records of patients undergoing tests for COVID-19 in any environment of the system of college health.
Those patients who died within 30 days of their COVID-19 tests were excluded from the analysis.
Of 13,638 people who were tested between January 1 and June 30, 2020, 424 were found to have COVID-19, of which 178 were classified as serious illness, while the rest were negative.
The researchers evaluated these people’s electronic medical records and followed them for 365 days after the first screening. They recorded that 2,686 patients had died.
The team analyzed health care records to determine causes of death and compared the risk of death of people who had had COVID-19 with that of those who had not tested positive.
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They found that the risk of death in the 12 months after infection was 233% higher among people younger than 65 who were hospitalized with COVID-19, compared to those who did not have the disease.
Furthermore, nearly 80% of all deaths in people who had recovered from COVID-19 in the past 12 months were not due to cardiovascular or respiratory causes, suggesting that the impact of the virus is significant and wide-ranging, including after infection.
This work joins others that have already studied the long-term effects of COVID, such as the one published in The Lancet.
In the latter, a group of researchers found that 6 months after acute infection, “COVID-19 survivors were primarily concerned with fatigue or muscle weakness, trouble sleeping, and anxiety or depression.”
Furthermore, patients who had severe episodes during their hospital stay had more severe pulmonary diffusion capabilities and abnormal chest imaging manifestations.
“There is a lot of interest in the scientific community that has focused on what happens to patients after having an episode of COVID-19. Some are targeting “prolonged COVID” or persistent symptoms such as mental confusion or a lack of smell. We were interested in the harsh outcome of death after recovery from COVID-19, ”Arch Mainous, author of the article, told Medical News Today.
And he added: “We think that the impact of COVID-19 would be significant enough to generate complications. The general trauma or psychological insult to the body would be dramatic enough to create lasting damage. ”
According to Mainous, medical treatments are fine for surviving the initial episode, but strategies must focus on keeping people out of the hospital in the first place.
“Risk contracting COVID-19 that will be mild, or that will only depend on treatments to overcome a severe episode carries great risks,” he warned.
He also stated that the figures obtained in the investigation show that the impact of COVID-19 may last longer than had been anticipated and that although the causes behind this phenomenon are unknown, it seems likely that it is related to the intense levels of inflammation affecting multiple parts of the body during infection.
It should be noted that children were not included in this study, although experts acknowledge that it is an issue that should receive more attention, since the long-term impact that COVID-19 can have among infants is not yet known.
How to prevent COVID-19
Experts and health authorities insist on remembering that receiving vaccines against COVID-19 is the best way to prevent new variants and severe problems due to infection
Available vaccines against COVID-19 protect up to 95% and more from contracting the coronavirus and developing the disease.
The information available so far, the product of scientific research, shows that, if the person is vaccinated and is infected anyway, they will have a lower risk of developing a serious form of the disease.
This is because the vaccine contains substances that work by neutralizing the action of a protein that helps the coronavirus infect the human body.
Also, by immunizing itself, the body is left with a supply of T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes that will remember how to fight this virus in the future.
Sources consulted: US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, World Health Organization (WHO).