An increased risk of Covid long after symptomatic infection

How many French people today suffer from a long or prolonged form of Covid-19, also called Covid long? If the very concept of long Covid has sparked debate since the first epidemic wave, the data tends to demonstrate it today. Almost two years after the start of the pandemic, French people continue to show symptoms of Covid-19. In addition, the results of the Constances cohort study show that the risk of long Covid is increased after a symptomatic infection.

SARS-Cov-2 infection and Covid long

The long or post-Covid Covid has intrigued scientists and doctors since the winter of 2019-2020. Studies are multiplying to understand the origin of these persistent symptoms and how best to take care of the patients concerned.. Patients describe symptoms that are still present several weeks or even months after the episode of SARS-Cov-2 infection. The symptoms mentioned include:

  • Loss of taste and/or smell;
  • Breathing difficulty;
  • joint and muscle pain;
  • Chronic fatigue;
  • Cognitive disorders;
  • Digestive disorders.

In this context, French researchers used data from the Constances cohort, which brought together 25,910 volunteers.

A cohort in the general population to better understand the long Covid

For doctors, it remains difficult to link most symptoms to the Covid-19 episode. Indeed, chronic fatigue or muscle pain may be linked to factors other than infection with SARS-CoV-2 several weeks or months earlier. The interest of the Constances cohort is to be a cohort in the general population, that is to say composed of both people who have contracted Covid-19 and people who have not been infected with SARS-Cov -2. The volunteers underwent a serological test to determine a history of Covid-19.

For the researchers, the analysis of data from the Constances cohort makes it possible to compare the persistence of symptoms 7 to 8 months after the first epidemic wave in four groups of volunteers:

  • People with a positive serological test and a history of symptomatic infection with SARS-Cov2;
  • Individuals with a positive serological test, but who have not developed any symptoms of Covid-19;
  • People with a negative serological test, but symptoms of Covid;
  • Those with a negative serological test and no symptoms described since the start of the pandemic.

No more Covid long after symptomatic infection

Based on the results, the researchers highlighted that symptomatic people with a positive serological test showed significantly, compared to people with a negative serological test, the following persistent symptoms:

  • A loss of taste and/or smell;
  • Breathing difficulty;
  • Tiredness.

In addition, they observed that the persistence of symptoms of Covid-19 was generally associated with the occurrence of characteristic signs of infection at the time when the person is infected with SARS-Cov-2. These results inform doctors about the complexity of the physio-pathological mechanisms involved in the development of prolonged forms of Covid-19. But it still remains to be formally demonstrated that these symptoms are linked to infection by the virus and not to other causes. This demonstration is essential for setting up appropriate care for the patients concerned.

Estelle B., Doctor of Pharmacy

Sources

– Persistent symptoms after the first wave of COVID-19 in relation to SARS-CoV-2 serology and experience of acute symptoms: A nested survey in a population-based cohort. sciencedirect.com. Accessed April 19, 2022.
– Long Covid: persistent symptoms months after the first wave. press.inserm.fr. Accessed April 19, 2022.

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