One in two people hospitalized with COVID-19 develop another health complication, a UK study showed, in the broadest look yet at what happens to those sick enough to need inpatient treatment.
Though complications were most common in those over the age of 50, the study found a significant risk for younger people as well. Among 19- to 29-year-olds hospitalized with Covid, 27% experienced a further injury or attack in an organ system in the body, while 37% of 30- to 39-year-olds experienced a similar complication, the researchers said in The Lancet on Thursday.
The study followed 73,197 patients admitted to UK hospitals between January and August of 2020 — meaning it didn’t capture the impact of vaccines or improved treatments, or that of the virus variants that have spread around the world this year. The best way to stop complications is to keep people from getting sick enough to need hospitalization in the first place, the research team said at a press conference.
“The best way of preventing this is vaccination,” said Calum Semple, a professor of child health and outbreak medicine at the University of Liverpool and the study’s chief investigator.
Kidney injuries affected almost one-quarter of all the hospitalized people, the researchers said, and liver and intestine problems were particularly common in younger patients. The study focused on hospital complications, acute attacks that occurred during initial treatment, not on the symptoms of long Covid.