New study: There are three types of long COVID-19, each with different symptoms

A new study from researchers at King’s College in London has found that those who have long COVID-19 infections fall into three distinct symptom categories.

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In a preprint study published on medRxiv, researchers reported that after studying 1,459 people, they could divide the group of long COVID-19 sufferers — those who have had COVID-19 symptoms for 12 weeks or more — into three groups based on the symptoms they have.

According to researchers, the first group suffered mainly from respiratory symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath or palpitations, WebMD reported. The first group represented the largest group in the study.

The second group comprised long COVID-19 patients who experienced neurological symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, poor memory and headaches. Researchers said they saw those symptoms mainly in people who had been infected with the alpha or delta variants.

The third group consisted of people who had an immune-related response, according to the study.

The study also found that the subtypes of people who had long COVID-19 were similar in vaccinated and unvaccinated groups. However, researchers said, data showed that vaccinations reduced the risk of long COVID-19.

“These data show clearly that post-COVID syndrome is not just one condition but appears to have several subtypes,” Claire Steves, Ph.D., one of the study authors and a senior clinical lecturer in King’s College London’s School of Life Course & Population Sciences, said in a statement.

“Understanding the root causes of these subtypes may help in finding treatment strategies,” she said. “Moreover, these data emphasize the need for long-COVID services to incorporate a personalized approach sensitive to the issues of each individual.”

A pre-print study means the research has yet to be peer-reviewed.

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