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Lasting consequences

People who survive SARS-CoV-2, even those not hospitalized, can suffer the effects of the infection for months after the most intense symptoms subside (Nature, April 22). Based on the medical records of 73,435 people in the USA who had COVID-19 but were not admitted to hospital, researchers from VA St. Louis Health Care System and Washington University in St. Louis found that within the first six months after diagnosis, people who had suffered a mild infection had a 60% greater risk of dying and a 20% greater risk of needing medical care than individuals who had not contracted the virus. The probability of death among COVID-19 patients was also 50% higher than for flu survivors. Comparatively, there is a greater risk of problems involving the respiratory, nervous, and digestive systems, in addition to metabolic disorders, malaise, fatigue, muscle pain, and anemia. The use of medication for pain, depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure also increased in the first group. Diabetes, kidney disease, and heart problems that were caused by COVID-19 can become chronic, requiring treatment for years to come.