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Do we have updated data about the risk of ~ permanent chronic fatigue from COVID-19?

by elityre1 min read14th Aug 202010 comments


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Months and months ago, when COVID-19 first broke, one of the most concerning aspects of the disease was the possibility that it might produce long-term chronic fatigue, based on a comparison with SARS (apparently a large percentage of the people who had SARS in 2003, had chronic fatigue symptoms years later, though I can't find the paper right now), plus some other evidence.

At the time, we didn't have much data, but now we're a few months into the pandemic. Obviously, we won't know how long lasting it is, but what are the updated risk estimates of chronic fatigue from COVID?

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Anecdotal evidence suggests that it is fairly common: https://www.reddit.com/r/COVID19positive/ -- 2 of the 5 top posts from today are from people complaining about experiencing this, and are both full of comments personally relating to it. There is obviously going to be a selection bias here, but it seems like a good starting point for estimating a lower bound if you can't find enough good studies.

This study finds about a third of patients self-report fatigue at 2-3 weeks after a positive coronavirus test. That might be a reasonable generous upper bound for the likelihood of chronic fatigue, though I wouldn't trust telephone studies of self-reported symptoms all that much.

From a Nature news article last week:

One study7 of 143 people with COVID-19 discharged from a hospital in Rome found that 53% had reported fatigue and 43% had shortness of breath an average of 2 months after their symptoms started. A study of patients in China showed that 25% had abnormal lung function after 3 months, and that 16% were still fatigued8.