Galway epidemiologist who survived Covid seeks non-hospitalised survivors’ stories

"Once I recovered from the typical symptoms, I found myself struggling with lingering symptoms"

Dr Akke Vellinga - seeking people who have tested positive for Covid in the last week or so.

Dr Akke Vellinga - seeking people who have tested positive for Covid in the last week or so.

An epidemiologist at NUI Galway who contracted Covid 19 earlier this year is appealing for people who have tested positive in the last week or so but who have not been hospitalised, to contact her as part of a major study into the lingering symptoms of the infection.

Dr Akke Vellinga, Epidemiologist and Senior Lecturer School of Medicine and Ryan Institute, NUI Galway told the Galway Advertiser yesterday that she contracted the infection not long after lockdown commenced, and although she was not hospitalised, she was left with symptoms which impacted on her quality of life.

“I am an epidemiologist at NUI Galway and have been involved in various international studies on Covid-19 over the past year. But not only that, I also contracted Covid myself in late March.

“Even though I got a nasty dose, I never had to go to hospital, but once I recovered from the typical symptoms, I found myself struggling with lingering symptoms, such as shortness of breath and extreme fatigue which would suddenly come on strong” she said.

“I had symptoms, including fever, shortness of breath and the painful chest for about a week. I was going to be tested, but then the testing criteria changed, and by the time this came around, I did not have a fever anymore and did not get a test.

“Even though the recovery was ok, the lingering symptoms were unexpected. I go for a walk every day, and for months after, it could suddenly hit me, and I would have to stop to catch my breath.

“I hear from others who also were affected that they had similar lingering symptoms, but different people may suffer from other symptoms. For our study we want to figure out who may develop lingering symptoms and which symptoms they are struggling with,” Dr Vellinga added.

Most research was on hospitalised patients

“After looking at the literature and talking to my international colleagues, we found that most research on this was done on patients who were admitted into hospital, not those in the community. We have now set up an international study, with Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, US, Brazil, Germany, Scotland, Italy and Ireland, to recruit patients with a positive covid-19 test but not hospitalised. We want to follow them up for six months to see how they get on.

The aim of the study is to find out if patients have longer term (lingering ) symptoms after a diagnosis of COVID-19. We are interested in the course of disease and want to describe presence of lingering symptoms and their impact on well-being and daily activities in adult non-hospitalized patients who have been diagnosed with a COVID-19 infection. This is part of a European collaborative research project in which we will include 200 patients, 20 from Ireland.

“If the results of your test were positive, we would like to ask you some questions about your symptoms, now and over the next few months” said Dr Vellinga.

“The interview can be done over the telephone. The interviews will be arranged at a time to suit you and should take about 20 minutes. After the first call, we will ring you again in two weeks and then monthly until you have no symptoms anymore (up to one year after your diagnosis ).

Taking part in the survey

If you are interested in taking part, we ask you to contact the research team using the details provided at the end of this document.

“Taking part will help us understand how long it takes for patients who have not been hospitalised to recover from a COVID-19 infection and why this may take longer for some patients.

All the information remains confidential and each participant will be given a unique participant number. The results will be published in scientific journals and meetings. A summary of the findings will be sent to all participants who would like to receive the results.

To take part in the study or if you have any further questions, get in touch with Dr Vellinga. Text 083-0195029 if you have had a positive test in the last week or so, or email [email protected].

 

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