Three types of long Covid with their own symptoms are identified

Study shows neurological problems linked to alpha and delta variants most common in Covid-19 long-haulers

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Three different types of long Covid have been identified by researchers, each with their own unique set of symptoms.

A study by King’s College London of more than 1,400 people living with persistent Covid-19-related health issues showed their symptoms were dependent on what strain of the virus they contracted.

Researchers looked at those with persistent health problems, at least 12 weeks after an infection.

First type

Neurological symptoms such as brain fog, persistent headaches and fatigue were most associated with those infected with the alpha and delta variants, and formed the largest group of associated health issues.

Second type

A second cluster group experienced respiratory problems, such as chest pain and shortness of breath, that indicated some form of lung damage.

Infections from this group were picked up during the period when most people were not vaccinated.

Third type

Others in a third group of subjects with long-term issues reported diverse symptoms, including heart palpitations, muscle aches and pains, as well as changes in their skin and hair.

“These data show clearly that post-Covid syndrome is not just one condition, but appears to have several subtypes,” said the study’s lead author, Professor Claire Steves from the School of Life Course and Population Sciences at KCL.

“Our findings matched with people’s experience living with long Covid.

“Understanding the root causes of these subtypes may help in finding treatment strategies.

“Moreover these data emphasise the need for long-Covid services to incorporate a personalised approach sensitive to the issues of each individual.”

Clinical data was extracted from the world’s largest Covid-19 study run by Zoe, a healthcare science company, in partnership with the UK government and KCL.

The research showed symptoms seen for 12 weeks or more were similar in the vaccinated and unvaccinated, although the risk of long Covid was reduced by vaccination.

The findings support the idea that those with long-term symptoms should be offered personal treatment plans to help overcome chronic health problems related to a bout of the disease.

Millions left with lingering symptoms

Dr Liane Canas from the School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences said the study was the first to profile subgroups of patients with specific post-Covid ailments.

“Given the time-series component, our study is relevant for post-Covid prognostication, indicating how long certain symptoms can last,” she said.

“These insights could aid in the development of personalised diagnosis and treatment for these individuals.”

According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics, about two million people are thought to be suffering with long Covid.

About 5 per cent experienced changes to taste and smell, according to data reviewed in the British Medical Journal, while others reported experiencing eating disorders such as anorexia, and anxiety and depression.

UAE residents tell of long Covid ordeal

The National last year shared the experiences of UAE residents still grappling with the lingering effects of Covid-19, months after being cleared with a negative test.

Serbian Vladimir Vukovic, who lives in Abu Dhabi, was one of those to suffer changes to his sense of smell, months after recovering from the virus.

“Food like onion, garlic, meat, eggs and anything with spices smelt unpleasant,” he told The National last year.

“The unpleasant smell is the worst that could happen. We all want to enjoy food.”

It was a similar story for Dr Tamer Abbas Saafan. A week after recovering from Covid-19, Dr Saafan noticed that his shower gel smelt strange.

“The first time it happened was when I smelt something unpleasant after taking a shower,” said the Ajman-based surgeon. “But I dismissed the idea.”

When it happened again, he tested his sense of smell on his wife's perfume, hand soap and air fresheners. The result was similar — they all smelt bad, like sewage.

Updated: August 05, 2022, 6:33 AM