Longer Covid infections in Indians four times after second wave: Experts

New Delhi: People infected in the second wave of Covid have experienced four times more long Covid conditions than those from the first wave, said experts here on Tuesday.

Weakness, fatigue, joint pain, mental fogginess, and myocarditis are some of the most commonly reported long Covid complications.

According to doctors at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, people who contracted the virus in the second wave showed multiple symptoms like high grade fever, diarrhoea, and severe lung infection.

Even after a year of testing positive, the road to recovery for various patients has been difficult. Some of the most commonly reported symptoms of long Covid for them have been acute weakness and fatigue.

Women reported suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome and myalgia, four times more than men, whereas complications like lung fibrosis are found to be more severe in men.

“The number of cases reported for long Covid and post Covid complications after the second wave have been four times more than what was reported in the first wave,” Dr M.S. Kanwar, Lead Lung Transplant and COVID Team at the hospital, told IANS.

“As post Covid complications, many patients are reporting problems like prolonged weakness, extreme fatigue, recurrent headaches, an increased pulse rate, various gastrointestinal issues and some uncommon complications like hair loss and menstrual disturbances in women,” he added.

Recovery for such patients is taking an extended time than expected, he said.

“The causes of long Covid are unreasonably higher inflammatory factors. The inflammation left by the virus is the root cause for various health ailments that crop up and remain to be a constant, unless the inflammation is fully subsided,” Kanwar said.

The reason for it can be a low-grade cytokine reaction or any type of immune dysregulation that is going on in the body and which the body hasn’t been able to handle, he added.

“But, the number is extremely high compared to what we had observed last year,” Kanwar noted.

Long Covid is also “associated with severity of the disease and usage of unwarranted steroids”, Dr. D Nageshwar Reddy, Chairman, AIG Hospitals, Hyderabad, told IANS.

But can Omicron also cause long Covid symptoms?

“It’s too early to comment on the symptoms of long Covid because of Omicron. We usually consider long Covid patients after at least 30 days of recovering from active infection,” Reddy said.

The data coming in from across the world indicates that Omicron is causing a milder disease than Delta with less hospitalisation and mortality. While the hospitalisation rate in the second wave was around 20 per cent, with this third wave we can expect this to be less than 5 per cent, Reddy said.

“If Omicron continues to cause mild disease, the chances of developing long Covid should be less than the aggressive variants like Delta. However, one should not negate the possibility of developing long Covid because of a milder variant as the pathophysiology of the disease can be different from the previous variants,” he warned.

Thus, for Covid patients, it is highly advisable to take preventive health checks, eat a nutritious diet, monitor blood pressure and sugar levels, engage in breathing exercises, and not administer unnecessary medicines to prevent long Covid conditions, the experts suggested.


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