Recovered Covid-19 patients may develop new symptoms within six months to a year after recuperating from the disease, a member of the coronavirus National Task Force, under the Indian Council of Medical Research, told The Hindu in an interview.
“Covid-19 is a recent disease and at times it displays symptoms which no other viral infection does,” said NK Arora, chief of Operations Research Group, which is part of the national Covid task force. “While we are developing understanding about the short and long-term impact on the body, we now know that one may develop new symptoms six months to one year after recovering from Covid. The term given to this is long Covid.”
The medical expert added that studies showed that after a Covid-19 infection, antibodies may remain in the system for three to nine months, preventing re-infections. He also spoke about data collated in India and other countries that show re-infections were rare. “However, in some cases, it may occur any time beyond three months after recovery from Covid-19,” Arora told The Hindu. “Vaccines provide protection against severe disease for a longer duration.”
Apollo TeleHealth senior internal medicine consultant Mubasheer Ali, however, said that available data also proved that only a few people may experience these long-term effects. These symptoms include fatigue, respiratory and neurological impacts.
Ali said that it was still unclear how many recovered coronavirus patients had experienced the long Covid symptoms. He cited studies to highlight that one among 10 people might experience these symptoms for three weeks or more.
Manipal Hospital, Delhi, Head of Department of Emergency Medicine Sushant Chhabra, said some people among those infected with the B.1.671 coronavirus strain were showing long-term effects. “There are many cases which we have observed in the last few days wherein patients have Covid-19 like symptoms but their RT-PCR tests are showing negative results,” he told The Hindu. “Irrespective, we are treating them as Covid-19 patients.”
The immunity to Covid-19 for a recovered patient was three to four months, according to Chhabra.
In the US
Meanwhile, the long-term effects of Covid-19 was cropping up among those under 20 in the United States. The symptoms were showing in a largely small percentage of children but the numbers have been increasing, according to Bloomberg.
The UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland was setting up a Long Haul Clinic for only young people being affected with long-term symptoms.
During a briefing at the White House on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden’s top Covid advisor Andrew Slavitt also spoke about his son being affected with long-term symptoms.
“He’s young and fit and in the prime of his life,” Slavitt said. “But six months later, he still suffers from tachycardia, shortness of breath, and ongoing and frequent flu-like symptoms. His hands are cold to the touch. Neither he nor his parents – my wife and I – are sure how long this will last. Many young people are in this situation, and many, many have it worse.”
Slavitt shared the personal story in an attempt to urge more people to get vaccinated in the country.
India, which has been reeling under the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, has had a difficult time tackling the rise in infections. The country’s healthcare infrastructure took a beating amid an unprecedented surge in new cases, with depleting resources, including medical oxygen and drugs.
The current rise in infections has also been reported to affect the younger population more, an occurrence not recorded in the first wave of Covid-19 cases.
India on Thursday recorded 2,76,110 new coronavirus cases, taking the total count of infections to 2,57,72,440 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. The country’s toll rose to 2,87,122 as it registered 3,874 deaths in the last day.