For the first time, Santé Publique France is conducting a major study on the high incidence of Covid. More than 2 million people under the age of 18 are affected. Fatigue, cough, loss of taste and smell… Symptoms vary and affect all age groups. Decryption.
From March 22 to April 8, 2022, Public Health France (SPF) conducted a large survey of the post-Covid disease, also called “Covid long”, and recently published the results. According to the definition of the World Health Organization (WHO), high Covid usually appears within three months of the first infection with Covid-19 and is characterized by persistent symptoms that, on the one hand, cannot be explained on the other diagnoses and, on the other hand, have an impact on the daily life of those affected.
The main symptoms seen in most cases are fatigue, difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell, memory/concentration problems, cough, or all kinds of pain (thoracic, muscular).
A total of 27,537 people aged 18 and over participated in the study. Based on this sample, 13% said they contracted Covid at least three months ago, and 4% said they had persistent symptoms at least two months after their infection. Reducing the total population of the age of 18, more than two million people will be affected by a high Covid in mainland France.
“High Covid multiplies the impact of the disease”
“‘This study highlights the consequent health impact of Covid-19 even beyond the death caused by the disease, reacts Marisa Peyre, epidemiologist at CIRAD in Montpellier. If we look at the severity of the disease according to mortality, we can put it in perspective, but the flu does not have these effects in the long term: long-term Covid multiplies the impact of the disease in the end”.
Regarding the symptoms, 87% of people with prolonged covid said they consulted their doctor, “which is recommended by the Health Insurance so it’s a good thing”, confirmed Véronique Gilleron, doctor of public health at Bordeaux University Hospital. For more specific consultations, 16% consulted specialists in pulmonology, 11% in neurology and 5% in infectiology. However, almost 11% of respondents with prolonged covid said they did not seek care – mostly men under 35. But the specialist wants to reassure: “Some symptoms of prolonged COVID disappears after a certain time, and there is support especially for the loss of taste and smell.”
“All this has a financial cost for society”
According to the results of the study, the most affected audiences are women, working people and people who are hospitalized. However, “the condition can affect all age groups of the population”, commented Marisa Peyre. “Depending on the symptoms, the disease affects the daily life of the person and all this at a financial cost for him and for society”, added the epidemiologist.
To anticipate these costs, the researcher recommends working on prevention strategies and investments in the long term, “to prevent epidemiological risks at the source and prevent new pandemics”.
“We must not forget the vaccination that will make it possible to achieve collective immunity”, Véronique Gilleron also recalled. The vaccination rate actually has an impact on the number of cases, and therefore the number of people with the advanced form of covid.
Do variants increase the risk of high Covid?
“It’s hard to predict what the other variants will do, we can hope, but we don’t know, that they will behave like the classic coronaviruses that we have in the winter: we’re a bit cold and we hope they don’t go away . ahead”, the public health doctor trusted. Same observation from the CIRAD epidemiologist’s side: “The long-term effects will depend on how the pathogen develops, and each variant may have different consequences”.