COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ more likely to seek medical care six months after infection: study

A large study published Thursday found that COVID-19 survivors who weren’t hospitalized were about 60 percent more likely to die and 20 percent more likely to need outpatient care than uninfected individuals.

The research featured in the journal Nature showed that these non-hospitalized COVID-19 survivors were more likely to seek medical care for several different long-term medical problems, including respiratory issues, as well as neurological, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and mental health problems.

Researchers analyzed data from the Veteran Health Administration (VHA) of more than 73,000 people who survived at least the first 30 days after getting diagnosed with COVID-19 and were not hospitalized. Out of that, 1,672 patients, or about 2.3 percent, died, although the cause of death was not mentioned.

The study compared that group with the almost 5 million VHA users who did not have COVID-19 and were not hospitalized.

The research reflects the experience of most Americans diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past year, as most of the more than 31 million people diagnosed with the virus in the U.S. did not end up in the hospital.

Key quote: “Long covid can affect nearly all organ systems,” Ziyad Al-Aly, the chief of research and development service at the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System who led the study, said.

“The burden of long covid is substantial, and we should prepare for it,” he added.