Covid-19 UK: One in two coronavirus patients hospitalized develop a complication, study shows

SAGE advisor Professor Callum Semple says it’s ‘naive’ to portray Covid as only hitting the old

More than a quarter of Covid hospital patients in their 20s suffer organ damage, a study suggests.

SAGE member Professor Callum Semple, one of the study’s authors, said the story that the virus only affects the elderly was “naive.”

The study analyzed more than 70,000 people admitted to the UK with the virus last year.

They found that half suffered from the complication, with the kidney, lungs and heart being the most affected organs.

People over 60 were the most affected group, but according to researchers from the Universities of Liverpool and Edinburgh, complications in younger adults were not trivial.

Overall, 27 percent of 19- to 29-year-olds hospitalized with Covid suffered organ damage, with liver problems being especially common in younger patients.

People in their thirties saw an even higher percentage, with 37 percent of patients developing a complication.

The researchers were unable to measure the severity of organ damage in several patients because they were not monitored after they left the hospital.

Experts warned that the third wave of the pandemic could cause even more complications this summer, as a higher proportion of hospitalized patients this time are young people.

More than a quarter of 20-somethings hospitalized with Covid last year developed complications, including kidney, lung and heart problems, a real-world data study has revealed

More than a quarter of 20-somethings hospitalized with Covid last year developed complications, including kidney, lung and heart problems, a real-world data study has revealed

Professor Semple said: ‘The message that Covid is a disease for the frail and the elderly – what we are realizing now is that paradigm is naive.

“Young people will be harmed by this disease and it will leave a legacy on the rest of their lives and how they want to live. SARS-Cov-2 (which causes Covid) is a nasty virus, it’s not just the flu.’


Most coronavirus patients recover within 14 days, develop a fever, cough and lose their sense of smell or taste for several days.

However, evidence is beginning to emerge that tell-tale symptoms of the virus can persist for weeks in “long transporters” — the term for patients plagued with lasting complications.

Data from the COVID Symptom Study app, by King’s College London and health company Zoe, suggest that one in ten people still have symptoms after three weeks, and some may suffer for months.

Long-term symptoms include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • breathlessness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Delusions
  • to succeed
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of taste/odor
  • kidney disease
  • Mobility issues
  • Headache
  • muscle strain
  • Fever

For those with more severe illness, Italian researchers who followed 143 people hospitalized with the illness found that nearly 90 percent still had symptoms, including fatigue, two months after they first felt unwell.

The most common complaints were fatigue, shortness of breath and joint pain – all of which were reported during their battle with the disease.

Another study in Italy showed that one in 10 people who lose their sense of taste and smell with the coronavirus – now recognized as a key sign of the infection – may not regain it within a month.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, involved 187 Italians who had the virus but were not sick enough to be hospitalized.

Britain’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has said the long-term health effects of Covid-19 could be ‘significant’.

Support groups such as: Long Covid have surfaced online for those who have “suspected covid-19 and your experience does not follow textbook symptoms or recovery time.”

The study — the largest of its kind — looked at Covid patient data from more than 300 hospitals between March and August.

It found that 60- to 69-year-olds were most likely to develop complications, with 5,954 of 11,139 having a problem unrelated to the original illness – 54 percent.

They were followed by the over-70s (52 percent), the over-80s (51 percent), and the over-90s (50 percent).

dr. Thomas Drake, a data scientist from the University of Edinburgh, said the trend was different from the risk of death, which increases sharply as people age rather than stabilize after 50.

While complications in younger people were still common, the scientists noted that they had a smaller sample size to work with because so few young people were admitted during the first wave of the epidemic.

Only 1,500 patients in the study were in their 20s, compared with 19,900 in their 80s.

Kidney damage — which can affect people for a lifetime — was the most common complication, with 24 percent of all patients sustaining damage.

Lung injuries (18 percent) came in second, while heart problems came in 12 percent of patients.

Organs can become damaged when the immune system overreacts to a Covid infection, causing it to attack healthy tissue while trying to fight off the virus – a process known as systemic inflammation.

Covid also causes blood clots that can migrate to major organs in the body and cut off their blood supply, leading to damage.

Joint senior author Professor Ewen Harrison, a surgeon and data scientist at the University of Edinbugh, said: ‘Patients hospitalized with Covid often had complications from the disease, even those in younger age groups and without pre-existing health problems.

“These complications can affect any organ, but especially the kidneys, heart and lungs.

Those with complications were in poorer health upon discharge from hospital, and some will have long-term consequences.

“We now have a more detailed understanding of Covid and the risks associated with it, even for younger, otherwise healthy people.”

He added: “Our assessment highlights some insightful patterns and trends that can inform healthcare systems and policymakers about the impact of Covid.

“Our results may also inform public health coverage of the risk that Covid poses to younger, otherwise healthy people at a population level, particularly regarding the importance of vaccination for this group.”

Dr Drake said: ‘Complications were common in all age groups, not just older people or those with pre-existing health problems.

“People with complications often need expert care and extra help to recover from their first hospitalization.”

Researchers said the data does not provide a long-term picture and the timing of complications and the patient’s quality of life were not studied.

The conditions sought in the study were determined before it took place so that not all organ damage caused by Covid would have been included.

Patients were not tested for multiple complications, so the actual number may have been higher.