JAMA has published a short (and open access) research letter from a group of Italian physicians late last week. The authors followed up on patients who had been hospitalized with COVID after they had been discharged and describe the ongoing symptoms.
This is the meat of the story:
Patients were assessed a mean of 60.3 (SD, 13.6) days after onset of the first COVID-19 symptom; at the time of the evaluation, only 18 (12.6%) were completely free of any COVID-19–related symptom, while 32% had 1 or 2 symptoms and 55% had 3 or more. None of the patients had fever or any signs or symptoms of acute illness. Worsened quality of life was observed among 44.1% of patients.
This population is a sick population. It was sick enough to require hospitalization with a significant number of individuals receiving assistance to breathe while in the hospital.
Two months after symptom onset, seven out of eight people were reporting at least a symptom from COVID.
One of the greatest known unknowns about COVID is what are the long term effects of the disease? How long will people need additional care? Does that incremental extra care vary in predictable ways and is it stratified by age or other demographic characteristics? Will there be long term COVID related mortality and morbidity effects?
We still don’t know as there is absolutely no way to gain a multi-year persepctive on a disease that we have been aware of for just over seven months now. This is one of the great challenges to actuaries who are trying to price 2021 insurance premiums. They are shooting into the dark on very little evidence and a lot of anecdotes and good guesses based on observation and analogy. But we just don’t know.