According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), long Covid symptoms “are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems that people experience after being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19“. Since, as of yet, there’s no clear pathology of this type of post-infection sickness, ailments can include “tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life,” “difficulty thinking or concentrating,” “difficulty breathing or shortness of breath” and similar symptoms.
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The prevalence of the sickness is not yet fully understood, although there have been increased efforts to effectively categorize and diagnose this new post-Covid disease, even though a reliable cure currently seems out of reach. Another building block in the efforts to raise awareness is a meta-study published by the German Robert Koch Institut (RKI) and the Journal of the American Medical Association, conducted as part of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study. The analysis puts the overall share of Covid-19 patients with long Covid symptoms at 6.2 percent after three months and 0.9 percent after 12 months. As our chart shows, severe illness apparently increases risk of long Covid considerably.
The study defines long Covid as the occurrence of symptoms from at least one of these three groups: persistent fatigue with physical pain or mood swings, cognitive problems and persistent breathing problems. As the RKI points out, the heterogeneity of the studies makes a conclusive assessment difficult. According to a recent study from December 2022 conducted by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, 35.2 million Americans reported having experienced long Covid symptoms in the past, with 17.2 million experiencing said symptoms at the time of the survey in the fall of 2022.