Since the pandemic began, millions around the world have described persistent symptoms after contracting Covid-19. To the astonishment of doctors and scientists, confronted with the multiple effects of this new virus in which everything could be discovered. but a long covid, How long is it? A few weeks, a few months or longer? Three years after the discovery of the corona virus, scientists are starting to have enough perspective to form an image.
According to a study published this Thursday in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), “Most of the symptoms or conditions that develop after a mild infection in the Covid-19 persist for several months but normalize over the year » after contamination.
“The vast majority of patients are well after a year”
In practice, a long covid leads to the persistence of symptoms or the appearance of new symptoms. more than four weeks after initial infection. And “according to a previous study published last year on the long Covid and the consequences of the virus, more than a third of the patients still suffered from symptoms related to Covid-19 after more than a year,” recalls Dr. Benjamin Davido, infectious disease specialist and Covid-19 emergency doctor at Raymond Poincaré Hospital in Garches (Hauts-de-Seine).
And the infectiologist received many patients who had been ill with Covid for a long time at the beginning of the pandemic. “The first consultations in 2020 for persistent symptoms affected patients who couldn’t be tested because tests weren’t widely available at the start of the pandemic, he recalls. We received patients who were concerned about the onset of symptoms beyond six weeks and who were concerned. The patients were checked regularly and “after six months some were better, after a year healed overall or with residual symptoms,” confirms the infectiologist.
Maytal Bivas-Benita, a researcher at the Israel AI Research Institute and a co-author of the study, said she was “encouraged” by the results as she worried about how long the symptoms could last. “The vast majority of patients are fine after a year, and I think that’s good news,” she said.
Less long covids with Omicron
“These results suggest that although the Covid phenomenon has long been feared and debated since inception PandemicThe vast majority of cases of mild infection do not suffer from severe or chronic long-term symptoms,” explain the researchers, who searched the electronic records database of Israel’s second-largest health insurance company, Maccabi Healthcare Services. Two million members were diagnosed between March 1, 2020 and March 1 October 2021 tested for Covid-19.
In addition, “long covids are half as present in the new Omicron-era variants and subvariants as in the previous strains, according to most prevalence studies,” notes Dr. David firmly. Probably because Omicron initially creates forms that are often less symptomatic or even asymptomatic, so it’s pretty logical.”
Therefore, in consultation, we are “even less affected by this long Covid problem since the arrival of Omicron. And probably, too, as this new study shows, because a number of cases have eventually recovered from these persistent symptoms since the pandemic began. Even if a hard core of seriously ill people certainly keeps their distance from their infection. On the other hand, we haven’t had this influx of long covid patients since Omicron.”
The protective effect of vaccination
But not only Omicron explains this phenomenon. The results also show that “vaccinated individuals were less at risk of respiratory distress – the most commonly observed consequence of mild illness – than unvaccinated individuals,” the study authors specify.
“It has shown: vaccination reduces the chance of contamination by up to 45% and would reduce the risk of a long covid by 30%, which is very positive, welcomes Dr. Davido. The vaccine would even have a curative effect in certain cases: it is estimated that by stimulating the production of neutralizing antibodies at very high concentrations, vaccination allows the spike protein to be eliminated.” Clearly: it would allow the body to to develop, to eliminate the virus stored in the cells, relieve the patient of persistent symptoms.
Uncertain times are ahead
So, with a vaccine recall rate in free fall in France, should we fear a flashback with an increase in contamination and a new explosion in long Covid cases? “The current Chinese scenario, with a colossal number of contaminations within a poorly vaccinated population, increases the risk of a new variant emerging, fears Dr. Davido. And there, the risk in cascade, it is a new very strong wave in France, in a population that has not made a vaccine recall and that is losing its immunity. Mathematically, this would generate new cases of long Covid. We tend to forget the usefulness of the vaccine: since its arrival, the face of the pandemic in France has not been the same. However, no one wants to repay the burden of a lengthy form that can take months or even longer.
As of September, at least 17 million people in Europe had suffered from long-lasting Covid in the first two years of the pandemic, according to World Health Organization models.