Long Covid comprises a range of symptoms that continue for weeks or months beyond acute Covid-19. Long Covid can happen to any former Covid patients, even those who only have mild illness.
Based on a Centre of Epidemiology and Evidence Based Practice, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya study conducted among former Covid-19 patients in Malaysia from July to September 2021, approximately 88 per cent of former Covid patients who responded have experienced post-Covid symptoms up to six weeks since diagnosis, 48 per cent more than six weeks, 21.1 per cent more than three months (long Covid), and 10 per cent more than six months (Moy FM, Hairi NN, Jian Lim ER, Bulgiba A. Long COVID and its associated factors among COVID survivors in the community from a middle-income country – an online cross-sectional study. medRxiv. 2022. doi: 10.1101/2022.03.09.22272168).
The ten most commonly reported post-Covid symptoms are tiredness (72.1 per cent), brain fog (50.9 per cent), joint or muscle pain (45.5 per cent), feeling anxious (45.4 per cent), insomnia (45.1 per cent), feeling depressed (41.2 per cent), persistent coughing (39.6 per cent), feeling sick (39.5 per cent), loss of smell or taste (37.1 per cent), weight loss (34.3 per cent), headache (33.5 per cent), difficulty in breathing (33.3 per cent), dizziness when standing (32.9 per cent), and heart palpitations (31.7 per cent).
These results were contributed by former patients who were most probably infected by the Delta variant, and were unvaccinated before infection.
Currently, the dominant virus is the Omicron variant, and more than 80 per cent of Malaysia’s population have been vaccinated with at least two doses, and 68 per cent of adults vaccinated with booster doses.
According to the United Kingdom’s Office of National Statistics, among double-vaccinated individuals, long Covid symptoms were 49.7 per cent lower in those infected with the Omicron variant, than those infected with the Delta variant.
However, there was no statistical evidence of a difference in risk between those infected with the Delta and Omicron variants among triple-vaccinated adults.
Another study from Japan also reported that the prevalence of post-Omicron conditions was less than that of the other strains (Morioka S, Tsuzuki S, Suzuki M, Terada M, Akashi M, Osanai Y, et al. Post COVID-19 condition of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. 2022:2022.05.12.22274990. doi: 10.1101/2022.05.12.22274990 %J medRxiv).
The research team from the Centre of Epidemiology and Evidence Based Practice, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya is conducting another survey on post-Covid symptoms to determine if individuals who have been infected (with or without symptoms) experience any post-Covid symptoms after recovery, and the duration of these symptoms.
Your participation will contribute to the understanding of long Covid and post-Covid conditions among former patients. The findings will be useful in the planning of human resources to provide necessary health care and support, as well as intervention programmes that support individuals who suffer from long Covid.
You can participate in the survey here.
Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming is from the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya.
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