People who experience long Covid following only a mild bout of Covid-19 are likely to see their symptoms resolve within a year, a study by researchers in Isreal has argued.
The research, published in the BMJ, has concluded that patients with mild Covid-19 are at risk from only “a small number” of health outcomes, “most of which are resolved within a year from diagnosis”.
One of the unknowns of long Covid, or the collection of long-term, lingering and often debilitating health conditions that can follow a Covid-19 infection, is how long symptoms will last for.
Some people – so-called ‘long haulers’ – who caught Covid-19 right at the start of the pandemic, so back in 2020, are still reporting long Covid. For others, symptoms can gradually ease.
The study compared data on people who had not been infected with Covid with people who had only a mild form of the virus, meaning they suffered symptoms but did not require hospital care.
The question of whether those who experience a severe bout of the virus, so including hospitalisation, will be more likely also to suffer from long Covid was not addressed.
Alongside this, the researchers examined information on ongoing symptoms after infection in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
They also examined information on a range of long Covid symptoms, including loss of taste and smell, breathing problems, concentration and memory issues, also known as brain fog.
The team discovered that, in most cases, symptoms of long Covid “remained for several months” but almost always resolved within a year.
“Lingering” breathing problems were also found to be more common among people who had not received a Covid vaccination compared with those who had.
“Although the long Covid phenomenon has been feared and discussed since the beginning of the pandemic, we observed that most health outcomes arising after a mild disease course remained for several months and returned to normal within the first year,” the academics wrote.
“This nationwide dataset of patients with mild Covid-19 suggests that mild disease does not lead to serious or chronic long-term morbidity and adds a small continuous burden on healthcare providers.
“Importantly, the risk for lingering dyspnoea was reduced in vaccinated patients with breakthrough infection compared with unvaccinated people, while risks of all other outcomes were comparable,” they added.
The largest number of long-term symptoms for at least six months were found among people aged 41 to 60, compared with other age groups, the study also concluded.