New Delhi: As the new COVID-19 cases are increasing across the world, the question that comes to mind is whether health issues persist after coronavirus recovery or not.
Doctors from various disciplines who have treated COVID-19 patients since its outbreak stated that coronavirus is not just a respiratory illness, but a systemic disease that affects all organs and predominantly the lungs. Doctors said this based on their observations from several non-severe coronavirus patients who only saw mild infection and did not require hospitalization or intensive care.
Doctors observed that even weeks after recovering from the virus, a large number of visibly healthy patients complained of fatigue, joint pains, back pains, dryness in the mouth, problems with appetite and sleep etc.
Speaking at an event hosted by Apollo Hospitals during the launch of Post-COVID recovery clinics across their network, the medical professionals emphasized the importance of timely care before the symptoms get severe. They shared the experience of fellow doctors who experienced blurred vision when reading from gadget screens, while they could read comfortable from paper, post their coronavirus recovery.
“Damage to heart and lungs in those who recovered from COVID-19 was also a major concern,” said one of the doctors.
Owing to blood clots in the system and also lung scarring, the doctors said there were patients who succumbed while performing an exercise, almost 3-4 weeks after their recovery. It was also said that the doctors didn’t yet have definitive answers for whether the scarring in lung tissue was reversible or not.0
They also said that in some patients, even months after recovery, their oxygen saturation in the blood dropped drown after speaking for a few minutes.
On the likelihood of recovered persons contracting the virus again, doctors opined that there were more such cases emerging in recent times.
“When it comes to measles or chickenpox, a recurrence is unlikely. But in COVID-19, we have seen persons who had a mild infection the first time get it a second time, nearly 2-3 months later, as they might not have developed anti-bodies. However they also pointed out that contracting infection from newspapers, milk packets was far too low when compared to exposure to crowds,” said Dr Suresh Kumar.
Given the onset of winter across India, he said that weather or temperature did not make a difference as COVID-19 originated during the winter in China and spread during the summer in India.
Experts also agreed that getting a safe vaccine was only half the battle and the scaling-up, the supply chain was the real challenge.
“In a realistic sense, a safe vaccine could take up to the middle of 2021, but even if ready, scaling up to 15 billion doses (two shots per head) would take two or three more years. There’s confusion in China and Russia over whether their vaccine is safe or not, but even if a safe vaccine is available, it would offer only 60-70% protection and not a 10% guarantee, so we must learn to live with the new normal,” Dr V. Ramasubramaniyan, Senior Consultant, Infectious Diseases, told Zee Media.
When asked about the effectiveness of the vaccine against mutations of the virus, it was said that mutations did reduce the effectiveness of vaccines and it could provide some cover.
“Even if a virus mutates, the vaccine gives cross-protection and it has a 50% chance of protecting the person. The vaccine can bring down the complications and severity of infection,” said Dr Sundararajan, Senior Consultant Pulmonologist.
On the false positive results arising out of RT-PCR tests, the experts said that it could happen either because of faulty sample collection or due to the errors while feeding the samples into an RT-PCR machine.
“The time period when the patient presented symptoms and whether he/she got tested at that time is also a factor,” said the team of doctors.