The effects of long Covid tend to resolve within a year of mild infection, with vaccinated people at lower risk of breathing difficulties compared with unvaccinated people, according to a study.
Researchers examined the health records of almost 2 million people in Israel who tested for Covid-19 over a 19-month period. Over 70 long Covid conditions were analyzed within a group of infected and matched uninfected members. They also compared conditions in vaccinated versus unvaccinated people.
Their study published in the BMJ medical journal found most symptoms that developed after a mild infection lingered for several months, but returned to normal within a year.
“The long Covid phenomenon has been feared and discussed since the beginning of the pandemic,” the researchers wrote. “This nationwide dataset of patients with mild Covid-19 suggests that mild disease does not lead to serious or chronic long term morbidity.”
Previous studies have indicated that vaccination tends to lead to milder cases of Covid infection and long Covid.
Long Covid is defined as symptoms persisting or new symptoms appearing more than four weeks after initial infection. An estimated 1.5 million people in the UK, or 2.4% of the population, were suffering from long Covid symptoms in March. These include fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of smell, loss of taste and difficulty concentrating.
Some of the limitations of the study include incomplete measurement within the medical records, meaning the data might not fully reflect diagnoses and outcomes reported, according to the researchers.
“The general message that symptoms improve over time is encouraging,” said Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, who was not part of the research team. “The study adds to the evidence that outcomes are improved by vaccination, even if vaccines don’t prevent viral transmission very well.”
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