Experts from King’s College London (KCL) said people with prolonged Covid-19 appear to be divided into three main groups, each with its own set of symptoms.
The largest group is those with neurological symptoms including fatigue, brain fog and headaches – most common among those who were infected when the most common coronavirus strains were alpha and delta.
The second group had respiratory symptoms including chest pain and shortness of breath, which may indicate lung damage. This is more commonly found among those infected during the first wave of the virus. This was the largest group in the period when the population was not vaccinated.
A final group had a variety of symptoms, including heart palpitations, muscle aches, and changes in skin and hair, the researchers said. Although there were differences to separate groups, the scientists said that these three subtypes were evident across all variants.
Crucially, the data also indicated that the symptom types for people who had symptoms for 12 weeks or more were similar in vaccinated and unvaccinated people, at least with variants containing these data. They would expect different combinations of symptoms depending on the vaccination status given the risk of prolonged Covid decline by vaccination. Existing data show that the risk of developing Long-Covid is generally reduced by vaccination.
They examined 1,459 people living with long-term Covid – defined by study authors as having symptoms for at least 84 days after infection – who participated in the Zoe Health Study.
Clinical lead author Dr Claire Steves of KCL said: “This data clearly shows that post-Covid syndrome is not just a single condition, but appears to be associated with several subtypes. Understanding the root causes of these subtypes may help find treatment strategies.”
“Moreover, this data underscores the need for Covid long services to incorporate a personalized approach sensitive to each individual’s issues.”
First author Dr. Lianne Kanas, also of KCL, added: “These insights could aid in the development of personalized diagnosis and treatment for these individuals.”
A preprint of the study has been published on medRxiv.
It is estimated that around two million people have long-held Covid in the UK, according to the latest estimate from the Office for National Statistics. Fatigue continued to be the most common symptom reported as part of individuals’ experience with prolonged Covid (56 percent) of those with self-reported prolonged Covid disease), followed by shortness of breath (31 percent), and loss of smell (22 percent). cent). cent) and muscle pain (21 percent).
The NHS has set up 69 assessment centers that receive referrals from GPs for people with brain fog, anxiety, depression, shortness of breath, fatigue and other debilitating symptoms of the prolonged Covid-19 virus.
However, a report published in January by MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee found that there were issues with the capacity of Covid long support clinics for secondary care, workforce availability, services for children with long Covid, and understanding of Covid long in primary care. They found that even after accessing a lengthy Covid assessment service, navigating the system can be “very confusing”.