New study: One in ten with COVID-19 experiences long-term effects

2021-04-08

The ongoing COMMUNITY study at Danderyd University Hospital shows that every tenth employee who has had COVID-19 still experience problems that affect their quality of life negatively after eight months.

Participating researchers Mia Phillipson, Charlotte Thålin, Sara Mangsbo, Sophia Hober and Peter Nilsson

In the spring of 2020, samples were taken from 2,149 employees at Danderyd University Hospital. Of these, 19 percent were confirmed to have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. Eight months later, one in ten of those who had COVID-19 still experienced symptoms that affected them negatively both at home, at work and socially. Nine percent experienced impaired taste and smell, several also reported breathing difficulties and fatigue.

“Our results show that even those who only had mild COVID -19 can suffer from long-term effects. Even if it this not healthcare-demanding organ damage, the symptoms affect the quality of life. This is yet another reason to limit the infection spread, and it is important that the public is aware of this,” states Charlotte Thålin, specialist doctor and Principal Investigator for the COMMUNITY study at Danderyd University Hospital and KI.

The COMMUNITY study is carried out in interdisciplinary collaboration with KTH, SciLifeLab, the Swedish Public Health Agency and Uppsala University. The research group includes Sara Mangsbo, research director in immuno-oncology at Uppsala University's Faculty of Pharmacy, whose team, among other contributions, collects materials for biobanking and analyses of T cells.

Sara Mangsbo, Faculty of Pharmacy

“We have previously begun analysing how long our immune system will protect us after a COVID-19 infection. Now we are also analysing the immunological biomarkers we have collected that affect those who experience long-term effects, as well as the connections between acute symptoms and long-term symptoms within the group,” says Sara Mangsbo.

The current results also show that every fourth participant experienced effects for at least two months after they had COVID-19. However, no increased prevalence of brain fatigue, long-term fever or heart palpitations were identified, as reported on social media and in some media.

“The lack of systematic studies can contribute to the sometimes somewhat skewed picture of long-term effects, on the other hand, the participants in the COMMUNITY study have a relatively low median age, and it is conceivable that we would have receive other results with older and sicker participants,” says Charlotte Thålin .

The study Symptoms and Functional Impairment Assessed 8 Months After Mild COVID-19 Among Health Care Workers is published in the scientific journal JAMA.

FACTS

  • The COMMUNITY study is following more than 2,000 employees at Danderyd University Hospital since the spring of 2020.
  • The researchers compare the group who had antibodies in the spring of 2020, with a control group of employees who did not have COVID-19 during last year.

MORE INFORMATION

CONTACT

Sara Mangsbo, research director in immuno-oncology
Faculty of Pharmacy, Uppsala University
Email Sara.Mangsbo@farmbio.uu.se


Charlotte Thålin, specialist doctor and Principal Investigator
Department of Clinical Sciences, Danderyd Hospital
E-mail: charlotte.thalin@ki.se

text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Mikael Wallerstedt a o

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Last modified: 2021-06-22