COVID-19 Symptoms Linger for Months, Study Reveals

Hilma Hólm, cardiologist.

Hilma Hólm, cardiologist. Photo/Eggert Jóhannesson

Vala Hafstað

Thirty-two percent of people diagnosed with COVID-19 still suffered serious symptoms five to 11 months after falling ill, Morgunblaðið reports. A loss of smell and taste is strongly associated with a COVID-19 infection, but improves with time.

Those are the results of research done by cardiologist Hilma Hólm and statistician Erna Ívarsdóttir on the long-term effects of a SARS-CoV-2 infection, presented at an informative meeting, held by deCode Genetics in Reykjavík yesterday. Two additional studies were presented at the meeting.

Erna Ívarsdóttir, statitician.

Erna Ívarsdóttir, statitician. Photo/Eggert Jóhannesson


In September of 2020, deCode Genetics began offering those who had been infected with COVID-19 to participate in a study that focused on researching the disease’s effects on health. The people participated in the research five to 11 months after being diagnosed. According to mbl.is , by the end of February, 1,141 individuals who became infected with COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic had participated in the research.

The research revealed that the longer the time that goes by since diagnosis, the lower the rate of people with a limited sense of smell. Once nine to 11 months had gone by, only 8 percent of participants had a limited sense of smell, compared with 20 percent of them five to six months after diagnosis.

Kári Stefánsson, CEO of deCode Genetics.

Kári Stefánsson, CEO of deCode Genetics. mbl.is/Eggert Jóhannesson


Other symptoms included shortness of breath, memory problems, fatigue, weakness, chest pain and palpitation. Thirty-two percent of people who became infected with COVID-19 still suffer substantial symptoms of that kind five to 11 months after diagnosis.

“We see, too, that about a third still suffers major symptoms [when it comes to] shortness of breath and memory problems,” Hilma tells mbl.is . “We must keep in mind that such symptoms are common in society, meaning that 14 percent of people who didn’t get ill have similar symptoms.”

“The sicker you were, the worse you feel five to 11 months later,” Hilma states. “This is as common among those who saw us five months after falling ill as it is among those who saw us 11 months after falling ill,” she adds.

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