The long and not so short of it: Global Prevalence of Post COVID-19 Condition (Long COVID)

Reviewed By:  Michael Payne, MD; London Health Sciences Centre

Post COVID-19 condition “Long COVID” is a highly prevalent condition with this study finding over 40% of patients experience symptoms, post 28 days from infection. Risk of persistent symptoms was higher for women, those with pre-existing asthma and patients with more severe illness (hospitalized). Given the high number of individuals infected globally with COVID-19, management of patients with long COVID-19 could utilize considerable health care resources as well as requiring additional economic and social supports.

This systematic review and meta-analysis study examined the worldwide prevalence of post COVID-19 condition (long COVID). 50 studies were included, and 41 were meta-analyzed. Global estimated prevalence of post COVID-19 condition was 43%. Hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients had risk estimates of 54% and 34%, respectively. Rates were high in all global areas, but did vary between regions: Asia 51%, Europe 44%, and North America 31%. Based on time from infection, prevalence of post COVID-19 condition for 30, 60, 90, and 120 days was estimated to be 37%, 25%, 32%, and 49%, respectively. Fatigue was the most common symptom reported with a prevalence of 23%, followed by memory problems 14%. The impact of vaccination on post COVID-19 condition is still being determined, as is the risk with more recent variants of concern (Omicron).

Global Prevalence of Post COVID-19 Condition or Long COVID: A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review. J Infect Dis. 2022 Apr 16; jiac136.

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