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Papers of the Week

2022 Mar 16

Res Sq

Long COVID and Symptom Trajectory in a Representative Sample of Americans.


Wu Q, Ailshire J, Crimmins E
Res Sq. 2022 Mar 16.
PMID: 35313574.


People who have COVID-19 can experience symptoms for months. Studies on long COVID in the population lack representative samples and longitudinal data focusing on new-onset symptoms occurring with COVID while accounting for pre-infection symptoms. We use a sample representing the U.S. community population from the Understanding America Study COVID-19 Survey, which surveyed around 8,000 respondents bi-weekly from March 2020 to March 2021. Our final sample includes 308 infected individuals who were interviewed one month before, around the time of, and 12 weeks after infection. About 23% of the sample experienced new-onset symptoms during infection which lasted for more than 12 weeks, and thus can be considered as having long COVID. The most common persistent new-onset symptoms among those included in the study were headache (22%), runny or stuffy nose (19%), abdominal discomfort (18%), fatigue (17%), and diarrhea (13%). Long COVID was more likely among obese individuals (OR = 5.44, p < 0.001) and those who experienced hair loss (OR = 6.94, p < 0.05), headache (OR = 3.37, p < 0.05), and sore throat (OR = 3.56, p < 0.05) during infection. Risk was unrelated to age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, current smoking status, or comorbid chronic conditions. This work provides national estimates of long COVID in a representative sample after accounting for pre-infection symptoms.