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As of August 6, coronavirus has infected 18,727,530 people worldwide. The horrific findings come after research into Wuhan, China’s intensive care patients from Dr Peng Zhiyong. The study has renewed fears of the long-term impact of COVID-19 in survivors, with previous findings suggesting a higher risk of strokes and heart failure in ex-coronavirus patients.
Dr Peng, intensive care director at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, issued his findings from a year-long study into how COVID-19 impacts health even after recovery.
His research from last month tracked 107 patients who suffered viral pneumonia after contracting coronavirus, and were placed in intensive care.
At the end of the three-month mark after discharge, Dr Peng reported that a staggering 90 percent still suffered from lung damage.
The group, who had an average age of 59, struggled with key respiration functions like ventilation and gas exchange.
Other findings from Dr Peng reported his patients lacked energy and found it difficult to walk long distances after being discharged from hospital.
Dr Peng tested the patients strength against a healthy group, finding the patients who could walk covered an average of 400 meters in six minutes compared to the standard 500 meters.
He also reported that the immune systems of most COVID-19 patients were still compromised three months after discharge.
About one in 10 had lost the antibody needed to fend off coronavirus in a matter of months.
Dr Peng said: “The results revealed that the patients’ immune systems are still recovering.”
Nearly half of the group studied were found to have struggled with depression after contracting the virus.
Dr Peng’s research team used two measurements to gauge depression, with one showing that a fifth of the group was in a state of depression, while the other indicated half the group was clinically depressed.
They felt as though they were unable to return to normal life, and would be stigmatised for contracting the virus.
Nearly all of those visited by Dr Peng’s team reported that even family members did not want to dine with them at home, let alone outsiders.
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Wuhan, China saw the original outbreak of coronavirus in December 2019, seeing 4,512 deaths and almost 70,000 cases.
It is the first study conducted into the long-term effects of COVID-19 in recovering patients.
A similar study, by Liang Tengxiao, deputy chief physician at the Dongzhimen Hospital in Beijing, found many of his patients over 65 who had recovered from severe disease still required oxygen support.
The study also found many had not regained their sense of smell or taste, a recognised a symptom of infection, months after recovery.
It comes as the World Health Organisation announced they will conducting an international investigation into the virus’ origins in Wuhan.
Two members of the study have already had “extensive discussion” with Chinese scientists about where the virus’ origins.
A WHO spokesman said that the talks included updates on animal health research.
China shut down a wildlife market in Wuhan at the start of the outbreak, a day after discovering that some patients were vendors or dealers.
The WHO has said they believe the virus probably came from bats and had another intermediary animal “host”.
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