The research also found that nearly all adults admitted to hospital experienced ongoing symptoms three months or more after the beginning of their infection, in what researchers called a positive step towards highlighting the long-term impacts of the disease.
It was led by Glasgow University, in collaboration with Edinburgh, Liverpool and Oxford universities and Imperial College London, working with the International Severe Acute Respiratory and emerging Infections Consortium (ISARIC) global Covid-19 working group.
It the first UK data on persistent symptoms – and impact on day to day functioning and quality of life – three to nine months after Covid-19 onset.
Researchers followed 327 adults from 31 hospitals around the UK who had been admitted to hospital between February 5 and October 5 2020. Participants were followed-up with for at least three months, and up to 11 months, in order to document their physical health, and impact on psychological health and quality of life.
Female participants under the age of 50 were five times less likely to report feeling fully recovered than men of the same age.
They were also twice as likely to report worse fatigue, seven times more likely to be more breathless and more likely to have worsening difficulties or a new disabilities, especially relating to memory, mobility, vision and hearing.
Overall, 55 per cent of participants reported that they did not feel fully recovered.
Ongoing symptoms were reported by 93 per cent, with fatigue the most common, followed by breathlessness. Many also experienced muscular pain and discomfort.
Dr Tom Drake, Clinical Research Fellow at the Usher Institute at Edinburgh University, said: “It is becoming increasingly clear that Covid-19 has profound consequences for those who survive the disease.
"In our study, we found that younger women were most likely to have worse long-term outcomes. It's really important that people living with the consequences of Covid-19 get the right support they need.
"Governments, both in the UK and across the world, need to think about the impact this will have in the long-term and fund urgent research to find treatments for long-Covid.”