Around 19 million Americans Suffer from Long COVID: Study

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In a recent study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, a team of researchers examined the risk factors, prevalence, and impact of long coronavirus disease (COVID) among a representative sample of adults in the United States (U.S.). They reported that nearly 19 million U.S. adults suffer from long COVID.  

As per News-Medical, long COVID, also known as post-acute sequelae of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) (PASC), is characterized by persistent or recurrent symptoms such as fever, headaches, cognitive impairments, cardiovascular difficulties, debilitating fatigue, and dyspnea, as well as other symptoms affecting multiple organs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one out of every five COVID-19 cases is protracted cases.  

The prevalence of lengthy COVID is higher among women and persons with many comorbidities or chronic diseases, according to studies. However, a thorough understanding of long COVID risk factors, the effects of long COVID on quality of life, and the efficacy of vaccines and booster doses against long COVID iarestill inadequate.

With the development of immune-evading variations like Omicron, the number of breakthrough infections has grown. Determining the level of protection conferred by primary and booster doses of vaccination against extended COVID is therefore crucial.  

In the present study, a cross-sectional probability-based survey was conducted in English and Spanish with 3,042 persons in the United States. Each participant’s history of infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was determined based on self-reported positive SARS-CoV-2 tests from a healthcare provider or home-rapid antigen tests or self-reported COVID-19 symptoms with evidence of close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient.  

After healing from COVID-19, the survey assessed the prevalence of long-term COVID symptoms such as fatigue, concentration difficulties, and dyspnea lasting longer than four weeks. Estimating the prevalence of extended COVID in the population required calculating the proportion of patients who verified these symptoms and had COVID-19 four or more weeks prior.  

In addition, the impact of long-term COVID on daily activities was determined based on the participants’ responses regarding whether and to what extent the long-term COVID symptoms affect their capacity to execute everyday activities compared to their abilities before contracting COVID-19.

To better comprehend long COVID predictions, the prevalence of cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular illnesses, immunodeficiency, liver disease, high blood pressure, or a recent organ transplant was also evaluated.  



7.3% of the participants reported having long-lasting COVID symptoms, which amounts to approximately 19 million U.S. individuals. Consistent with prior research, the prevalence of lengthy COVID was greater among women and those with comorbidities. Long COVID was more prevalent in unvaccinated persons as well as vaccinated individuals who had not had booster doses.

Adults older than 65 years had a lower incidence of long COVID, and those of Black, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander races had a lower prevalence of long COVID compared to white non-Hispanic adults.  

44% of participants with long-lasting COVID symptoms had SARS-CoV-2 infections during the previous six months, 27% had SARS-CoV-2 infections between the previous six to 12 months, and 29% reported having a SARS-CoV-2 infection more than a year ago. Moreover, all patients with long-term COVID reported diminished capacity to do everyday activities. Those with the most recent SARS-CoV-2 infections reported the most interference with everyday activities.  

Given the wide variety and lack of specificity of long COVID symptoms, estimating the burden of long COVID has proven to be difficult. Understanding the risk factors for long-term COVID can assist in the development of methods to mitigate the long-term effects of COVID-19. Many prior studies investigating the risk variables linked with long-term COVID were conducted on hospitalized patients, which may have overrepresented those with comorbidities, according to the authors.  

The present study, which is more representative of the adult population of the United States, reveals a remarkably reduced prevalence of protracted COVID among the older population. The authors hypothesize that this could be attributable to the increasing vaccination rate among the elderly population of the United States, as well as the adoption of disease mitigation strategies such as masking and social distancing.  

This cross-sectional study of a representative sample of adult U.S. residents explored the risk variables related with long COVID and the impact of persistent or recurring long COVID symptoms on daily activities. Over 18 million Americans suffer from long-term COVID, with a higher frequency among women, individuals with comorbidities, and White folks. Individuals who were unvaccinated and unboosted were also more susceptible to extended COVID.

All patients with long-lasting COVID symptoms reported diminished capacity to do everyday activities. However, the impact of long-lasting COVID on daily living appeared to diminish over time. 

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