Almost a third of recovered Covid patients are readmitted to hospital within five months and up to one in eight die of Covid-related complications.
Research by Leicester University and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that out of 47,780 people discharged from hospital in the first wave, 29.4 per cent returned to hospital within 140 days and 12.3 per cent died.
The devastating long-term effects of coronavirus can cause many survivors to develop heart problems, diabetes and chronic liver and kidney conditions.
Study author Kamlesh Khunti, professor of primary care diabetes and vascular medicine at Leicester University, told the Telegraph this was the ‘largest study of people discharged from hospital after being admitted with Covid’.
Professor Khunti said: ‘People seem to be going home, getting long-term effects, coming back in and dying. We see nearly 30 per cent have been readmitted, and that’s a lot of people. The numbers are so large.’
The study has yet to be peer-reviewed and the alarming statistics are based on initial data. In other developments:
- NHS figures revealed one in six Covid-19 patients in English NHS hospitals arrived without the virus but were infected there since September;
- Another 671 deaths were recorded, the highest number for any Sunday of the pandemic so far, along with 38,598 new cases;
- NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said a patient is being admitted to hospital with coronavirus every 30 seconds;
- Ex-Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption sparked a row after telling stage 4 bowel cancer sufferer Deborah James on TV that her life was ‘less valuable’ than other people’s;
- All travellers arriving in Britain face being forced to quarantine in hotels under plans to further lock down the country’s borders;
- England rugby star Maro Itoje called for every schoolchild to have a laptop as he vowed to tackle the ‘digital divide’;
- Parks remained packed despite the Prime Minister warning people to ‘think twice’ before leaving the house;
- Dominic Raab warned the public it is ‘too early’ for them to book summer holidays for this year.
Paramedics transport a patient from the ambulance to the emergency department at the the Royal London Hospital
It comes as a further 671 people have died from Covid-19
But Professor Khunti said he was surprised to find that patients were returning to hospital with a different diagnosis and that many had developed further complications.
He added: ‘We don’t know if it’s because Covid destroyed the beta cells which make insulin and you get Type 1 diabetes, or whether it causes insulin resistance, and you develop Type 2, but we are seeing these surprising new diagnoses of diabetes.’
Kamlesh Khunti, professor of primary care diabetes and vascular medicine at Leicester University
The Government currently register a death as Covid-related if the patient dies up to 28 days after a positive test.
But the real death toll may be much higher if thousands of Covid survivors return to hospital with serious health problems months after first contracting the disease.
In December, the ONS estimated one in 10 people who caught Covid went on to suffer long Covid with symptoms lasting three months or more.
Common symptoms of long Covid include extreme tiredness, shortness of breath and problems with memory and concentration.
Responding to the study, Christina Pagel, director of the clinical operational research unit at University College London, tweeted: ‘This is such important work. Covid is about so much more than death. A significant burden of long-term illness after hospitalisation for Covid.’
It comes as NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said that someone is being admitted to hospital with Covid ‘every 30 seconds’.
The NHS boss, who was appearing on the Andrew Marr show, said that hospitals had seen a huge increase in patients since Christmas and added that there are enough new cases to fill a whole hospital every morning. He also revealed that a quarter of the admissions are people under the age of 55.
Sir Simon said: ‘The facts are very clear and I’m not going to sugar-coat them, hospitals are under extreme pressure and staff are under extreme pressure.
‘Since Christmas Day we’ve seen another 15,000 increase in the in-patients in hospitals across England, that’s the equivalent of filling 30 hospitals full of coronavirus patients.
‘Staggeringly, every thirty seconds across England another patient is being admitted to hospital with coronavirus.’
It comes as a further 671 people have died from Covid-19 today, representing the highest Sunday increase.
The surging death rate comes despite hopes infections might finally be tailing off. A raft of official data and scientific estimates published this week offered the strongest evidence yet that the tough lockdown restrictions have worked.
Cambridge University researchers believe the R rate – the average number of people each infected person passes the disease onto – may have dipped to as low as 0.6 in London and the South East. The figure must be below one for an outbreak to shrink.
Public Health England revealed weekly Covid cases have fallen in every age group except the over-80s, despite the spread of the highly infectious variant first spotted in Kent which officials feared couldn’t be contained.
In more positive news, he also revealed that a trial for 24-hour Covid vaccines within the next 10 days.