What Is Long COVID?

PN95 Website Visual - Long Covid

Long COVID is increasingly prevalent, and symptoms may persist for months or years. Patients with Long COVID report prolonged, multisystem involvement and significant disability. By seven months, many patients have not yet recovered (mainly from systemic or neurological and cognitive symptoms), have not returned to previous levels of work, and continue to experience significant symptom burden.

Ask the Expert Spotlight: Katelyn Jetelina

Katelyn Jetelina, author of Your Local Epidemiologist, translates public health science into everyday language

The burden of long COVID has been extremely difficult to grasp. Prevalence and incidence estimates have vastly ranged from 2% to 75%.

Unfortunately, just like with long COVID in general, we don’t know the exact mechanisms through which SARS-CoV-2 impacts the heart. But four pathways continue to be explored

  • Long Covid Mini-Series: Kids Long COVID among kids is one of the pandemic’s biggest mysteries—and one that causes a lot of worry for parents. This is a deep dive into what we know (and do not know) right now.

  • Long Covid Mini-Series: Indicators and Treatment In epidemiology, one of the biggest jobs we have is to find disease patterns. Because if we can find patterns, the disease is predictable. And if it’s predictable, then it’s preventable and/or treatable. This means we are not only interested in how many people get the disease, but who gets that disease. For the past two years, scientists have been trying to figure out the patterns of long COVID. So far, we’ve uncovered a few very interesting patterns.

The Lancet: Long COVID symptoms in SARS-CoV-2-positive children aged 0–14 years - Figure 1: Study profile

Long COVID symptoms in SARS-CoV-2-positive children aged 0–14 years and matched controls in Denmark (LongCOVIDKidsDK): a national, cross-sectional study

THE LANCET: Child & Adolescent Health By Prof Selina Kikkenborg Berg, PhD Pernille Palm, PhD, Ulrikka Nygaard, PhD, Prof Henning Bundgaard, DMSc, Maria Nivi Schmidt Petersen, MSc, Siri Rosenkilde, MSc, Anne Bonde Thorsted, MSc, Prof Annette Kjær Ersbøll, PhD, Prof Lau Casper Thygesen, PhD, Prof Susanne Dam Nielsen, DMSc, Anne Vinggaard Christensen, PhD January 13, 2022

Cases in our study had more sick days and school absences, reflecting, to some degree, the recommended quarantine period. We included these data in our study to examine if the absences in cases were substantially longer than what could be expected due to quarantine and acute symptoms. The data in cases reflect burden to the family, socioeconomic burden, and access to education.

Data in this study were obtained for the period in which the alpha and delta variants of SARS-CoV-2 were dominant, and it is therefore unknown whether the results are generalisable to children infected with a more recent variant or any future variants of the virus.

In conclusion, children who had a history of SARS-CoV-2 infection in all age groups from 0 to 14 years reported a higher prevalence of long-lasting symptoms compared with age-sex-matched controls, and, among the oldest respondents, more females than males had long-lasting symptoms. Many long-lasting symptoms were also found in the control group. There was a tendency towards better quality-of-life scores in cases than in controls in the oldest groups. Further research should study post-COVID-19 diagnoses, prescribed drugs, and health-care use to better understand symptom clusters and long-term consequences of COVID-19 and the pandemic in children. These data are to be reported by the LongCOVIDKidsDK study.

Long Covid Study

Characterizing long COVID in an international cohort: 7 months of symptoms and their impact

The Lancet August 1, 2021

Patients with Long COVID report prolonged, multisystem involvement and significant disability. By seven months, many patients have not yet recovered (mainly from systemic and neurological/cognitive symptoms), have not returned to previous levels of work, and continue to experience significant symptom burden.

Long Covid Body Parts Affected

Twitter Thread on Long Covid for Non-Specialists

Twitter June 6, 2022

This twitter thread helps breakdown and explain valuable information on long covid for non-specialists. Topics included in the thread include what long covid is, who gets it, what causes it, what to do, and what the outlook is.

Long Covid Woman

Long Covid Has Over 200 Symptoms And Leaves 1 In 5 Unable To Work, Study Finds

Forbes By Robert Hart July 15, 2021

according to a new study...based on surveys from nearly 4,000 people from 56 countries, identified fatigue, brain fog and post-exertional malaise (where symptoms worsen after physical or mental effort) as the most common symptoms. ... researchers noted that patients reported experiencing symptoms that are “not commonly mentioned in public discussion of long Covid,” like seizures, suicidality, facial paralysis, new allergies and changes in sensitivities to medication.

KEY BACKGROUND The findings reinforce the understanding that Covid-19 is far more than a respiratory illness and has an effect on the entire body. It also highlights that some symptoms may only emerge after months or weeks of the initial infection. Severity of the initial infection does not appear to be strongly linked to the chances of getting long Covid, making children and young people—along with the unvaccinated—especially vulnerable. Given that the majority of early research only covered hospitalized patients and the continued lack of consistent diagnostic criteria, it’s not yet known how common long Covid might be. Studies suggest around 10% to 30% of Covid-19 patients may go on to become these “long haulers,” though this figure is likely to change as more research is conducted. ... BIG NUMBER 33.9 million. That’s how many people in the U.S. have had Covid-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Using a conservative estimate of 10% for how many people go on to develop long Covid and subtracting how many have died from Covid-19, that’s 3.3 million Americans who could be living with persistent, debilitating symptoms.

Nature Immunological dysfunction persists for 8 months Fig. 1: Elevated levels of proinflammatory cytokines that persist more than 8 months following convalescence.

Immunological dysfunction persists for 8 months following initial mild-to-moderate SARS-CoV-2 infection

Nature By Chansavath Phetsouphanh, David R. Darley, Daniel B. Wilson, Annett Howe, C. Mee Ling Munier, Sheila K. Patel, Jennifer A. Juno, Louise M. Burrell, Stephen J. Kent, Gregory J. Dore, Anthony D. Kelleher & Gail V. Matthews January 13, 2022

Abstract A proportion of patients surviving acute coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection develop post-acute COVID syndrome (long COVID (LC)) lasting longer than 12 weeks. Here, we studied individuals with LC compared to age- and gender-matched recovered individuals without LC, unexposed donors and individuals infected with other coronaviruses. Patients with LC had highly activated innate immune cells, lacked naive T and B cells and showed elevated expression of type I IFN (IFN-β) and type III IFN (IFN-λ1) that remained persistently high at 8 months after infection. Using a log-linear classification model, we defined an optimal set of analytes that had the strongest association with LC among the 28 analytes measured. Combinations of the inflammatory mediators IFN-β, PTX3, IFN-γ, IFN-λ2/3 and IL-6 associated with LC with 78.5–81.6% accuracy. This work defines immunological parameters associated with LC and suggests future opportunities for prevention and treatment.