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Covid symptoms persist more than six weeks in ‘a third of cases’



A third of people with Covid-19 still report symptoms six weeks after diagnosis, a Swiss study has found, prompting the authors to call for the public to be better informed about these persistent conditions.

The research, published yesterday, looked at 699 people with Covid-19 who did not need hospitalisation. Thirty-three per cent reported fatigue, loss of smell or taste, shortness of breath or a cough six weeks after diagnosis.

The most reported symptom was fatigue (14%) followed by shortness of breath (9%), loss of taste or smell (12%), a persistent cough (6%) and headaches (3%).

Dr Mayssam Nehme at the University of Geneva, where the study took place, said many patients were ‘very worried’ about the ongoing symptoms.

She said they asked questions such as: ‘How much longer would it last? Were some after-effects irrecoverable?’

It is ‘important to listen to concerned parents’, even ‘without a clear medical answer’ currently, she added.

The authors recommended an information campaign, adding that persistent symptoms must be better recognised by the general public, healthcare workers, employers, insurance companies and insurers.

They continued: ‘Everyone should realise that previously healthy people can also be affected by Covid-19, weeks or even months following the infection.’

Although this study looked at symptoms lasting for six weeks, NICE split Covid into three different time points in a definition published in November.

NICE’s case definitions for different time points of Covid:

• Acute Covid-19 infection: Signs and symptoms for up to four weeks
• Ongoing symptomatic Covid-19: Signs and symptoms from four weeks up to 12 weeks
• Post Covid-19 syndrome: Signs and symptoms that develop during or following an infection consistent with Covid-19, continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis. It usually presents with clusters of symptoms, often overlapping, which can fluctuate and change over time and can affect any system in the body