Majority have ‘long Covid’ symptoms seven weeks after discharge

A new study conducted by researchers at UCL, have highlighted more than two-thirds of patients hospitalised due to COVID-19 continue to suffer from debilitating symptoms more than seven weeks after being discharged.

The study was carried out in collaboration with the Royal Free London and University College London Hospitals NHS Trust, and has shown that 54 days after discharge, 69% of patients were still experiencing fatigue, 53% were suffering from persistent breathlessness, 34% still had a cough and 15% reported depression. In addition 38% of chest radiographs (X-rays) remained abnormal and 9% were getting worse. 

Published in the medical journal Thorax, the study was led by Dr Swapna Mandal and Professor John Hurst, who are both UCL Division of Medicine academics and RFL respiratory consultants.

In total the clinicians as part of post-coved clinics observed 384 patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 and had been treated at Barnet Hospital, the Royal Free Hospital or UCLH. Collectively the average length of stay in hospital was 6.5 days. 

Dr Mandal, an Honorary Clinical Associate Professor at UCL Division of Medicine, said “Patients whose COVID-19 illness is serious enough for them to require hospital care often continue to suffer significant symptoms for many weeks after their discharge.”

Professor Hurst (UCL Division of Medicine) said: “Understanding ‘long Covid’ is critical in helping people who have been through this life-changing experience return to health, while rapid roll-out of this follow-up service shows how our clinical teams worked together to deliver an innovative service during a period of unprecedented demand on our staff.”