Why post-recovery symptoms could prove dangerous for Covid-19 survivors

More than 40 million people have been deemed recovered from coronavirus globally but it looks like beating the initial sickness is not the only battle that Covid-19 survivors have to fight. While a Covid positive patient may recover within two or three weeks, scientists are now saying that sickness could bounce back in different forms within the next few months.

The latest study by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that a rare multisystem inflammatory illness could be developed in some of the Covid-19 survivors. This could turn into a major challenge for public health across the world.

The deadly virus takes a toll on the immune system of the survivor. It could leave survivors with further health complications, including strokes, pulmonary embolisms, and even heart attacks, leading to sudden death. The Covid-19 virus infection could lead to developing multi-system hyperinflammatory syndrome, leading to multi-organ failure and shocks in survivors, a recent study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) shows.

“A rare multisystem inflammatory illness has been observed in both children and adults following acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. Distinct from early inflammation resulting from viral replication and cell death, hyperinflammation can occur in organ systems distinct from those affected during Covid-19 and can begin after host clearance of SARS-CoV-2 infection,” S. Deblina Datta, the lead author, associated with Covid-19 Response, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia observed in the research paper.

According to the JAMA research, Covid-19 Infection is characterised by three illness periods. The first phase is the beginning of infection with fever, cough, difficulty in breathing with RTPCR positivity. The research maintained that ‘symptomatic infection is not a necessary precursor to later illnesses’ as asymptomatic patients could also suffer from late illnesses.

The second phase sign manifests after 2 to 5 weeks of the Covid-19 infection. Covid-19 primarily affects the respiratory system. However, in the second phase – the hyperinflammation can occur in a different organ system entirely separate from those affected during Covid-19. In this phase, patients may have cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and dermatological symptoms.

In the third phase, patients have symptoms of fatigue, breathlessness, joint pain, and chest pain after 60 days of infection. According to the study, 87% of previously hospitalised patients had one or more persistent symptoms even after 60 days from the onset of the infection.

Former Professor and Head of Dept of Pulmonary AIIMSG C Khilnani told India Today that this phase is potentially severe and could be life-threatening as deadly virus dysregulated host immune response.

“This phase of the illness is poetically serious and life-threatening with a patient requiring ICU care. Therefore, if there are symptoms of fever, cough, chest discomfort with or without low oxygen levels after initial recovery; then, the patient and family must not ignore and seek medical attention,” Khilanai added.

Experts advised that care of patients with Covid-19 must not stop at two weeks but should continue with judicious use of medication and supportive therapy which include physiotherapy and counselling.

“Recognition of the post-infection illness would lead us to address this phase of the disease with anti-inflammatory agents and other supportive therapies without loading patients with an unnecessarily high dose of expensive antibiotic,” Khilnani further added.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind Covid-19 infection, belongs to a family of single-stranded RNA. Viruses in this family are known for their deadly attack on the respiratory, neurological, cardiovascular (heart and blood vessels), liver, and gut systems.

India reported more than 94 lakh Covid-19 cases as on Tuesday morning. Of these about 93 per cent have been officially discharged or recovered. However, as per the said research, these survivors need to be careful of the post-Covid-19 sickness.

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