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BENGALURU: If you have been suffering from fatigue, respiratory problems or brain fog even months after recovering from Covid-19, you are not alone. A global study has found that in India alone, nearly four crore people experienced these symptoms of long Covid since 2020.
The number is more than 14 crore globally.
A paper — ‘A global systematic analysis of the occurrence, severity, and recovery pattern of long COVID in 2020 and 2021’ — revealed starting details. It was published by a group of researchers from various universities across the globe, and from the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD), a collaboration of over 3,600 researchers from 145 countries.
The researchers put various long-term effects of Covid-19 into three categories — fatigue, cognitive problems and ongoing respiratory issues. They found that 144.7 million people experienced one or more of these three symptoms three months after infection, in 2020 and 2021. Most cases arose from milder infections. Twelve months after infection, recovery was not seen in 15.1% of the cases.

They found that the most common long Covid symptom was respiratory trouble (89.3%), followed by post-acute fatigue syndrome (78.9%) and cognitive syndrome (55.2%). They also found that globally, more women (63.2%) than men were affected by long Covid.
The paper, which was published on medRxiv (a free online archive and distribution server for complete but unpublished manuscripts in medical, clinical and related health sciences), said a substantial number of people with long Covid need rehabilitative care and support to transition back into workplace or education when symptoms start to wane.
“While much attention during Covid-19 pandemic was directed at daily case counts and those with serious disease overwhelming health services, increasingly, reports have appeared of people who experience debilitating symptoms after the initial infection. This is known as long Covid,” the researchers, who found 84 long-term effects of Covid-19, said.
doctor Giridhar Babu, professor, head — lifecourse epidemiology — Indian Institute of Public Health Bengaluru, Public Health Foundation of India, told TOI the study proves that Covid-19 can neither be dismissed as just another flu nor should it be dreaded. “Instead, one must identify the real concern of long Covid and its effect on young professionals, who are required to return to office, women and even children,” said dr babu.
He said that with crores of people suffering from post-Covid fatigue and other health effects, there is a need for a system to track people with Covid illness and help them with rehabilitation and required support.
“Within families, we must be sensitive towards them; Workplaces must be more sensitive to these long Covid problems and support teams with benefits, packages etc,” Dr Babu said, calling for policy support from the government as well.
Dr Sandeepa HS, interventional pulmonologist at BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital, said they have observed cases of long Covid, especially after the third wave. “People with borderline allergies have become fully allergic. Chronic fatigue, joint pain and feeling mentally low are some other symptoms,” Dr Sandeepa said.
doctor Ambanna Gowdasenior consultant physician and diabetologist, SPARSH Hospital, however, said he has only seen 1 to 10 people per 1,000 Covid patients with long Covid symptoms.
“Restlessness, increased heartbeat, insomnia, chest pain, constant headache and psychiatric symptoms are some of the complications they might experience for a period of six months to one year,” Dr Gowda said.


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