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Papers of the Week

2022 Aug 11

Int J Environ Res Public Health



Long-Term Health Symptoms and Sequelae Following SARS-CoV-2 Infection: An Evidence Map.


Franco J V A, Garegnani L I, Oltra G V, Metzendorf M-I, Trivisonno L F, Sgarbossa N, Ducks D, Heldt K, Mumm R, Barnes B, Scheidt-Nave C
Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Aug 11; 19(16).
PMID: 36011562.


Post-COVID-19 conditions, also known as 'Long-COVID-19', describe a longer and more complex course of illness than acute COVID-19 with no widely accepted uniform case definition. We aimed to map the available evidence on persistent symptoms and sequelae following SARS-CoV-2 in children and adults. We searched the Cochrane COVID-19 Study Register and the WHO COVID-19 Global literature on coronavirus disease database on 5 November 2021. We included longitudinal and cross-sectional studies and we extracted their characteristics, including the type of core outcomes for post-COVID-19 conditions. We included 565 studies (657 records). Most studies were uncontrolled cohort studies. The median follow-up time was 13 weeks (IQR 9 to 24). Only 72% of studies were conducted in high-income countries, 93% included unvaccinated adults with mild-to-critical disease, only 10% included children and adolescents, and less than 5% included children under the age of five. While most studies focused on health symptoms, including respiratory symptoms (71%), neurological symptoms (57%), fatigue (54%), pain (50%), mental functioning (43%), cardiovascular functioning (40%), and post-exertion symptoms (28%), cognitive function (26%), fewer studies assessed other symptoms such as overall recovery (24%), the need for rehabilitation (18%), health-related quality of life (16%), changes in work/occupation and study (10%), or survival related to long-COVID-19 (4%). There is a need for controlled cohort studies with long-term follow-up and a focus on overall recovery, health-related quality of life, and the ability to perform daily tasks. Studies need to be extended to later phases of the pandemic and countries with low resources.