A recent study conducted by the University of Washington has revealed important information about long COVID, also known as the long-term effects of COVID-19. The study analyzed data from 54 studies reporting on over 1 million people from 22 countries who had experienced symptoms of COVID-19. It was found that 90% of people living with long COVID initially experienced only mild illness with COVID-19, however the typical person then experienced symptoms including fatigue, shortness of breath and cognitive problems such as brain fog. The study also revealed that women have twice the risk of men and four times the risk of children for developing long COVID and that those who were hospitalized for COVID-19 had a greater risk of developing long COVID compared with those who had not been hospitalized. Furthermore, it was found that nearly one out of every seven people were still experiencing symptoms of long COVID a year later.
The study highlighted the human and economic costs of long COVID, as many people living with the condition are working-age adults who may be unable to work and lose their income, livelihoods and housing. Researchers and research funders have been looking for effective and affordable treatments, with some long COVID clinics opening to provide specialized care. However, treatments are still limited, inconsistent and may be costly.
Currently, researchers are still trying to understand why some people with mild COVID-19 cases experience long-term effects and why symptoms can suddenly appear and disappear. Additionally, the role of different risk factors, such as smoking and high body-mass index, and the impact of getting reinfected with SARS-CoV-2 on the risk for long COVID are still being investigated.
The study conducted by the University of Washington provides important insights into long COVID, however further research is needed in order to gain a better understanding of the condition and to provide effective and affordable treatments to those living with it.