Most people experience Covid-19 as a short-term disease – once the infection has been combated, they return to health. But evidence is emerging for a significant minority – sometimes referred to as “long haul carriers” – who struggle with long-term symptoms for a month or more.
Anecdotal relationships abound with people left with fatigue, muscle pain and difficulty concentrating. Online support groups have sprung up on Facebook and Slack, which already host thousands of members who claim they haven’t improved.
Speaking at the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday, Matt Hancock said it was difficult to gauge the extent of the problem. “This is a really serious problem for a minority of people who crave, “said the health secretary.” Some people have long-term effects that look like post viral fatigue syndrome. “
Scientists are just beginning to study the potential causes of enduring fatigue, but they say there is likely to be a wide variety of reasons why some people face a longer road to recovery.
“Fatigue itself will take many different forms,” said Chris Brightling, a professor of respiratory medicine at the University of Leicester, who is conducting a recently announced £ 8.4 million study on the long-term health impacts of Covid-19. .
A report published in February by the World Health Organization, based on preliminary data, suggested that, in mild cases, the median recovery time from Covid-19 is approximately two weeks from the onset of symptoms and three to six weeks for serious or critical cases. However, some of those who appear to have only mild illness initially also end up struggling with symptoms, including fatigue, that persist for weeks or months.