Many Long Covid patients cannot fully return to work half a year later - study

The most common long Covid symptoms are debilitating fatigue and 'brain fog' Credit: PA

Nearly half of people with Long Covid - with symptoms lingering way after contracting the coronavirus - have been unable to properly return to work six months after infection, according to a study.

While some patients appear to recover from Covid-19, there are others who are left with debilitating fatigue and 'brain fog' - which involves memory problems and an inability to focus.

Some 45% of people with Long Covid had a "reduced" work schedule compared to before their illness, a survey of more than 3,700 Long Covid patients showed.

It also showed that 22.3% were not working due to their health conditions.

Explainer: The long-term effects of Covid-19

Those who reported symptoms six months after infection said relapses were often triggered by exercise, physical or mental activity, and stress. The worsening of symptoms could follow even minor physical or mental exertion.

The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, was conducted by researchers from Patient-Led Research for Covid-19 and involved patients from 56 different countries.

“Patients with long Covid report prolonged multisystem involvement and significant disability,” the researchers wrote.

“Most had not returned to previous levels of work by six months.

“Many patients are not recovered by seven months, and continue to experience significant symptom burden.”

A third of the Long Covid patients surveyed were in their 40s, 27% in their 50s and 26% aged 30 to 39. The majority (79%) were women.

Severe fatigue is a common symptom of Long Covid.

Just 8% were admitted to hospital for their symptoms and a quarter had a lab-confirmed positive test.

An overwhelming majority (96%) said their symptoms lasted more than 90 days.

The paper, published as a pre-print on MedRxiv, found symptoms affected 10 different “organ systems”.