March 9th 2021
23% of participants in the Big Corona Study still have at least one symptom four months after infection
Fatigue and shortness of breath are the most common long-term symptoms after a COVID infection. Remarkably, people over 65 report significantly fewer complaints than younger age groups. This and more became apparent in a new wave of the Big Corona Study.
The Big Corona Study, an initiative of UAntwerp, in cooperation with UHasselt, KU Leuven, ULB and supported by a financial boost from the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), saw its 32nd edition on Tuesday. Again, 28,000 Belgians took the time to fill in the questionnaire. In addition to the questions that participants have been asked for almost a year now, this time there were questions about the timing of the phasing out of measures, as proposed by the Consultative Committee at the end of last week.
The questionnaire always produces an enormous amount of data. An initial analysis yielded some interesting results:
People are working from home less: in April 2020, more than half of employed participants worked exclusively from home, on 9 February 2021, about 40% of them worked from home permanently, on 9 March 2021 the figure was 35%. At the same time, 36% of participants who don’t always work from home indicate that circumstances at their workplace have become safer. Only 8% think they have become less safe.
Especially participants active in education (13%) indicate that circumstances have become less safe. In the health care sector, only 6.5% indicated that circumstances had become less safe, probably as a result of the higher vaccination coverage in that sector. Respondents who feel that their workplace has become safer mainly point to the fact that masks have become more common and that fewer colleagues are present at the same time.
If people are allowed to choose which activities they would like to resume first, they overwhelmingly choose inviting more than one person at home: 35% choose it as their first priority, 69% put it in their personal top 5. The opening of outside seating at restaurants and bars is second on the list. Most participants don’t have a strong opinion on the proposed timing of the relaxations.
30% of participants still experience at least one symptom two to four months after a confirmed COVID infection. Four to six months after infection, the figure is still 23%. So that number is falling quite slowly. General fatigue and shortness of breath are the most commonly reported symptoms. It’s striking that people under 65 years of age clearly suffer more from long-term symptoms than those over 65.