New Delhi: People hospitalised with seasonal influenza can suffer long-term, negative health effects, especially involving their lungs and airways, much like the effects of long Covid, according to a study. The research, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, compared the viruses that cause COVID-19 and the flu. It shows that in the 18 months after infection, patients hospitalised for either COVID-19 or seasonal influenza faced an increased risk of death, hospital readmission, and health problems in many organ systems.
The time of highest risk was 30 days or later after initial infection, the researchers said.
Ziyad Al-Aly, senior author of the study and a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University, US said,
The study illustrates the high toll of death and loss of health following hospitalisation with either COVID-19 or seasonal influenza. It’s critical to note that the health risks were higher after the first 30 days of infection. Many people think they are over COVID-19 or the flu after being discharged from the hospital. That may be true for some people. But our research shows that both viruses can cause long-haul illness.
The analysis spanned up to 18 months post-infection and included a comparative evaluation of risks of death, hospital admissions and 94 adverse health outcomes involving the body’s major organ systems.
The novel approach compared the long-term health effects of a vast array of conditions. Dr Al-Aly said,
We wanted to know whether and to what degree people with flu also experience long-term health effects. The big answer is that both COVID-19 and the flu led to long-term health problems, and the big aha moment was the realisation that the magnitude of long-term health loss eclipsed the problems that these patients endured in the early phase of the infection.
The overall risk and occurrence of death, hospital admissions, and loss of health in many organ systems are substantially higher among COVID-19 patients than among those who have had seasonal influenza, Al-Aly said. He added,
The one notable exception is that the flu poses higher risks to the pulmonary system than COVID-19.
The researchers analysed de-identified medical records in a database maintained by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the country’s largest integrated health-care delivery system.
They evaluated information involving 81,280 patients hospitalised for COVID-19 at some point from March 1, 2020, through June 30, 2022, as well as 10,985 patients hospitalised for seasonal influenza at some point from October 1, 2015, through Feb. 28, 2019.
During the overall 18-month study period, patients who had COVID-19 faced a 50 per cent higher risk of death than those with seasonal influenza, the researchers said.
This corresponded to about eight more deaths per 100 persons in the COVID-19 group than among those with the flu, they added.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which in its Season 10 is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Ayushmann Khurrana. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In a world post COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental well-being, self-care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.