The survey found that about 7% of adults and 1% of children have struggled with Covid for a long time

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Research shows that long-lasting COVID-19 symptoms could affect millions of Americans.


Estimates of the number of people with long-term COVID-19 symptoms in the US vary widely, but a new survey from the National Center for Health Statistics says the condition affected 962,000 children and 17.9 million adults Is.

According to the agency, in 2022, 1.3% of children and 6.9% of adults had ever had long Covid. However, only 0.5% of children and 3.4% of adults He said he had Covid for a long time at the time of the survey.

The estimates are consistent with some US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveys, but they are lower than earlier studies focused on long-term Covid – in some cases by substantially more. For example, the US Census Household Pulse Survey from June to December 2022 found that 31.1% of all Americans had ever had long Covid.

The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 23 million people in the US have had long Covid at some point.

The National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the CDC, says the difference in data can be attributed to differences between surveys such as who received questions addressing long-term Covid, questions about how What was presented, what language was used, and how each survey was administered. ,

There are differences in definitions also. This special report defines Long Covid as symptoms that persist for at least three months after a positive test or a doctor’s diagnosis of Covid-19. But for example, in August, the CDC defined long COVID as symptoms lasting four weeks or longer.

Data for the latest study come from the National Health Interview Survey, a nationally representative household survey of the US civilian non-institutionalized population that is conducted continuously throughout the year. Questions about Long Covid added in 2022.

According to data from the 2022 Nationwide Commercial Laboratory Seroprevalence Survey, most people in the US have had Covid by the time of the new survey. As of December, 91.9% of children and 77.5% of people aged 16 and older had antibodies indicating previous Covid infection.

The demographics of those who reported having long-term Covid in the new survey were mostly in line with previous research.

Women, Hispanics, adults living in rural areas and adults ages 35 to 49 were most likely to have long COVID. Asian adults were the least likely to have long COVID, as were those whose household income was more than 400% of the federal poverty level. ,

Among children, those most likely to have long COVID were girls, children ages 12 to 17, and Hispanic children. Asian children were again least likely to have prolonged Covid symptoms.

An earlier study showed that Long Covid causes a greater burden of disability than heart disease or cancer. Although the percentage of adults reporting long COVID is declining over time, long-term symptoms can still be debilitating.

In response to the need for better understanding and treatments, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded a first-of-its-kind $45 million grant last week to expand access to care and promote best practices for long-term COVID management. In July, the Biden administration announced the creation of the Office of Long Covid Research and Practice, as well as the launch of clinical trials.

Dr. Amy Edwards, an infectious disease specialist who runs the long COVID clinic at UH Rainbow Babies Hospital in Cleveland, said research like the new survey is important so doctors know how closely to monitor long COVID. Until there is a biomarker test to definitively detect the condition, it will be difficult to fully assess how many people have the condition.

“I think this was a good jab at it,” said Edwards, who was not involved in the new survey. “This is consistent with the idea that it is probably rarer in children than in adults.”

However, one concern with the survey is that not all respondents may even know that they have had long-term Covid. Some people may associate it with classic symptoms like a runny nose, he said. But at Edwards’ long COVID clinic, children are coming in with neurocognitive changes and persistent fatigue, among other things.

Edwards is also seeing patients who have classic long-lasting COVID symptoms, but they only develop after becoming sick with another illness, like the flu or strep.

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“Our hypothesis is that COVID causes some type of change, but it’s subtle enough that the patient tolerates it as long as they don’t have some kind of additional stress,” Edwards said. “Our suspicion is that it is not the flu or Covid that is causing the classic long Covid symptoms. “It’s the flu or strep that is exposing the damage done by Covid.”

Despite the numbers, Edwards said, he hopes people won’t dismiss Long COVID if, at least on paper, it appears to be in a relatively small part of the country. Some of her young patients have so little energy that they can no longer go to school. If they do, they should go home and sleep instead of participating in past hobbies like playing soccer or joining the chess team.

“Disabling 1% of our pediatric population is nothing,” Edwards said.

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