HALF of patients hospitalised with Covid develop at least one complication, with large numbers of "young, previously healthy" individuals among those affected.

A study of more than 73,000 patients admitted to 302 hospitals across the UK was carried out between January and August last year, before the vaccine rollout and prior to the emergence of the Alpha (Kent) variant and the Delta strain from India.

It found that 27 per cent of 19-29 year olds and 37% of 30-39 year olds suffered a complication which had both short and long-term health impacts.

The most common were kidney and respiratory problems, but cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, and liver complications were also reported, and 13% of 19-29 year olds were unable to look after themselves - at least temporarily - once discharged from hospital.

This rose to 17% among 30 to 39-year olds.

Chief investigator Professor Calum Semple, of Liverpool University, said the findings should "dispel" narratives that Covid "is only dangerous in people with existing co-morbidities and the elderly".

The research, published today in the Lancet, comes at a time when young people are making up a larger share of Covid patients in hospital while older Scots benefit from vaccine protection.

HeraldScotland:

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Of the 475 Covid admissions in Scotland in the week ending July 6, 135 (28%) were aged 20 to 39. Previously, this age group made up less than 10% of admissions.

Of the 73,197 patients included in the Lancet study, just over 23,000 died. Of those who survived, 44% experienced complications.

The incidence of complications rose with age, from 27%in the 19 to 29 age group to roughly 50% in patients aged 60-plus.

They were more common in men than women, and most frequent in Black patients than other ethnicities.

The authors warn that policymakers should consider the health impact for Covid survivors, not just mortality, when making decisions around easing restrictions.

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Joint senior author Professor Ewen Harrison, of Edinburgh University, said: “Those with complications had poorer health on discharge from hospital, and some will have long-term consequences.

"We now have a more detailed understanding of Covid-19 and the risks posed, even to younger otherwise healthy people...Our results can also inform public health messaging on the risk Covid-19 poses to younger otherwise healthy people at a population level, particularly in terms of the importance of vaccination for this group.”

Aya Riad, joint co-author, also from Edinburgh University, added: “Just focusing on death from Covid-19 is likely to underestimate the true impact, particularly in younger people who are more likely to survive severe Covid-19.”