Realities of Long COVID

From Acute Illness to Long-Term Struggle: Realities of Long COVID

United States: For many individuals, contracting SARS-CoV-2 results in an unwelcome few weeks of aches, coughs, and weariness. Yet, for approximately one in five, this malaise lingers interminably, evolving into long COVID.

What predisposes certain individuals to the persistence of an acute infection remains elusive.

A consortium of scholars from across the United States scrutinized the records of 4,708 American adults infected with SARS-CoV-2 between April 2020 and February 2023, about one in five continued to grapple with COVID-19 symptoms beyond the three-month mark – the benchmark for long COVID, according to

The study unveiled that long COVID was more prevalent among women and those with antecedent cardiovascular maladies. Conversely, it was less frequent in vaccinated individuals and those afflicted with the less virulent Omicron variant.

“Our research highlights the pivotal role of COVID vaccination, not merely in mitigating infection severity but also in diminishing the likelihood of long COVID,” asserts Elizabeth Oelsner, an epidemiologist at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Certain health conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and smoking history, were initially correlated with prolonged recovery times; however, these factors lost significance when other risk variables were considered.

Severe infections and protracted recuperation periods were also more prevalent among American Indian and Alaska Native participants, further illuminating the racial and ethnic disparities associated with COVID-19.

Several risk factors, including an elevated long COVID risk in females and a reduced risk in vaccinated individuals, had been previously reported. Notably, the researchers did not find a significant connection to mental health issues despite COVID-19’s profound impact on the brain, as mentioned by

“Although prior studies suggested that many long COVID patients endure mental health struggles, we did not identify depressive symptoms preceding SARS-CoV-2 infection as a major risk factor for long COVID,” states Oelsner.

With enhanced comprehension of who is most susceptible to long COVID, researchers can more effectively determine the underlying causes and develop targeted treatments.

As the world endeavors to move past the pandemic, millions of individuals with persistent COVID-19 symptoms and society at large stand to benefit from ongoing research into the disease, mentioned.

“Our study definitively establishes that long COVID imposes a significant personal and societal burden,” says Oelsner. “By identifying individuals likely to experience prolonged recovery, we gain insights into who should be involved in future studies aimed at alleviating or preventing the long-term repercussions of SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

This research has been published in JAMA Network Open.

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