Think a 'mild' case of Covid-19 doesn’t sound so bad? Think again
Conventional wisdom suggests that when a sickness is mild, it’s not too much to worry about. But if you’re taking comfort in World Health Organization reports that over 80% of global Covid-19 cases are mild or asymptomatic, think again. As virologists race to understand the biomechanics of Sars-CoV-2, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: even “mild” cases can be more complicated, dangerous and harder to shake than many first thought.
Many survivors of “mild” Covid-19 experience lasting side-effects, and doctors are still trying to understand the ramifications. Some of these side effects can be fatal. “Mild” cases of Covid-19 in which the patient was not hospitalized for the virus have been linked to blood clotting and severe strokes in people as young as 30.
Doctors now know that Covid-19 not only affects the lungs and blood, but kidneys, liver and brain – the latter potentially resulting in chronic fatigue and depression, among other symptoms.
Another troubling phenomenon now coming into focus is that of “long-haul” Covid-19 sufferers – people whose experience of the illness has lasted months. For a Dutch report published earlier this month researchers surveyed 1,622 Covid-19 patients with an average age of 53, who reported a number of enduring symptoms, including intense fatigue (88%) persistent shortness of breath (75%) and chest pressure (45%). Ninety-one per cent of the patients weren’t hospitalized, suggesting they suffered these side-effects despite their cases of Covid-19 qualifying as “mild”. While 85% of the surveyed patients considered themselves generally healthy before having Covid-19, only 6% still did so one month or more after getting the virus.