Long Covid Afflicts At Least 14% of the US Population

A comprehensive investigation into long Covid and symptom prevalence in the United States reveals that one in seven individuals had experienced long Covid by the conclusion of 2022. Researchers from UCL and Dartmouth conducted this large-scale study, offering crucial insights into the profound impact of long Covid on affected individuals.

The study finds a strong association between long Covid and increased levels of anxiety and low mood, alongside heightened risks of persistent physical mobility challenges, and difficulties with memory, concentration, and comprehension. These findings are documented in a research paper published in PLOS ONE.

INFLUENCE OF VACCINATION

Notably, the risk of anxiety and low mood appears to be lower among those who have been vaccinated, even among individuals dealing with longCovid. Vaccination seems to play a protective role in mitigating the mental health effects of longCovid.

Co-author Professor Alex Bryson from UCL Social Research Institute emphasizes the limited understanding of longCovid and its impact on health and well-being. The research underscores the growing body of evidence indicating that many individuals continue to experience persistent and concerning symptoms linked to longCovid. Professor Bryson notes that long Covid has a lasting effect on millions of people in the US, with certain demographic groups more significantly affected than others.

STUDY METHODOLOGY AND KEY FINDINGS

 The study examined data from 461,550 participants who responded to the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey spanning from June to December 2022. The research compared three groups: those who had never contracted Covid-19, those who had a Covid-19 infection without lingering symptoms, and those with current or previous experiences of longCovid.

Following the World Health Organization’s criteria, longCovid was defined as the continuation or development of new symptoms at least three months after the initial infection.

The  research revealed that nearly half (47%) of the survey participants reported having contracted coronavirus at some point. Among the total respondents, 14% had experienced long Covid at some point, with 7% still having long Covid symptoms when surveyed. These findings suggest that as many as one in three individuals who contract Covid-19 may develop long Covid symptoms. The researchers acknowledge the limitation that the study relies on self-reported symptoms, potentially missing individuals who had Covid-19 without realizing it.

The study unveiled that lon Covid was more prevalent among women than men and showed higher rates among white individuals, middle-aged populations, and those with lower incomes or educational attainment. The highest prevalence of longCovid was observed in West Virginia (18% of the population), while Hawaii had the lowest prevalence (11%).

LongCovid was notably more common among individuals who initially experienced severe symptoms, with 31% of individuals currently reporting longCovid having initially had severe symptoms, compared to only 7% of those who had coronavirus without developing longCovid.

The researchers stress the necessity for further investigation to understand how longCovid triggers its diverse range of potential symptoms. They also emphasize the importance of longitudinal data to assess the potential impact of vaccinations on the risk of developing long Covid.

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