Women with heart problems who catch Covid are most likely to be left with lingering symptoms, new research has suggested.

Scientists found people took 20 days on average to recover after being struck down with the virus between 2020 and 2023. 

But more than one in five adults took over three months to recover — a phenomenon now better known as long Covid.  

The researchers, who tracked more than 40,000 Americans who'd been infected with the virus, also discovered women were more at risk of lingering Covid symptoms despite fewer severe infections. 

It comes as Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner's daughter Violet today revealed she contracted a post-viral condition in 2019 while calling for 'mask mandates' in medical facilities in a passionate speech to the LA County Board of Supervisors.

The 18-year-old urged the board 'to confront the long Covid crisis' by strengthening pandemic-era protections in hospitals and government buildings.

US officials suggest one in ten people who catch the virus will develop long Covid, while around two million people in the UK are reported to live with the condition.

Symptoms are wide-ranging, from fatigue and breathlessness to muscle and joint pain.

In the new study, researchers analysed data from more than 4,700 adults, who 61 on average, who were asked to self-report how long it took to recover after infection. 

What is long Covid ?

Most people with Covid feel better within a few days or weeks, but those with long Covid take much longer to recover.

The symptoms include:

Fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of smell and muscle aches.

It can also cause:

Memory problems, a tight chest, insomnia, heart palpitations, dizziness, joint pain, pins and needles, tinnitus, stomach aches, loss of appetite, high temperature, a cough, rashes and depression. 

Source: NHS 

All were enrolled in the study between April 2020 and February 2023. 

They found those who battled the infection at home had an average recovery time of 33 days. 

By comparison, patients hospitalised spent 58 days recovering. 

People who had received a Covid vaccine had around a 70 per cent less chance of spending more than three months recovering. 

Writing in the journal JAMA Network Open, the researchers also said: 'Although studies have suggested that many patients with long Covid experience mental health challenges, we did not find that depressive symptoms prior to Covid infection were a major risk factor for long Covid.' 

Professor Elizabeth Oelsner, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University, also added: 'Our study underscores the important role that vaccination against Covid has played, not just in reducing the severity of an infection but also in reducing the risk of long Covid.

'It clearly establishes that long Covid posed a substantial personal and societal burden.

'By identifying who was likely to have experienced a lengthy recovery, we have a better understanding of who should be involved in ongoing studies of how to lessen or prevent the long-term effects of Covid infection.'   

It comes as Violet Affleck, the eldest daughter of the Argo director, 51, and 13 Going on 30 star, Jennifer Garner, 52, today detailed her experience of contracting 'a post-viral condition' in 2019.

Addressing the LA County Board of Supervisors she said she 'saw first-hand' that medicine doesn't always have answers to the 'consequences of even minor viruses'. 

She added: 'You must expand the availability of high-quality free tests and treatment, and most importantly the county must oppose mask bans for any reason. They do not keep us safer.'

'They make vulnerable members of our community less safe, and make everyone less able to participate in Los Angeles together.'

The JN.1 variant, dubbed Juno, has been dominant in the UK and USA for the past few months. 

Covid cases have continued to slowly increase across the UK, in recent weeks after infection rates dwindled over the spring. 

Health chiefs have already issued an alert over a variant, nicknamed FLiRT, they had begun monitoring. 

Virologists are using the term FLiRT to describe a family of different variants — KP.2, KP.3, JN.1.7, JN.1.1, and KP.1.1. They are all descendants of Juno. 

But ministers have repeatedly said that they won't resort to imposing lockdowns unless a doomsday variant appears.

A wall of immunity among the population — built up by repeated waves of infection and vaccine rollouts — has given officials confidence to consign pandemic-era measures to history. 

Spikes in Covid cases can still cause mass illness across the country, sparking chaos in schools, the health service and public transport.

Officials also no longer track the prevalence of the virus in the same way they used to, as part of the Government's ushering in of pre-Covid normalities.

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2024-07-10T10:36:15Z dg43tfdfdgfd