Long-standing Covid affects women more than men, according to a national survey
A woman receives a dose of the vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a sports stadium during the coronavirus pandemic, in Vina del Mar, Chile, on April 22, 2021.
Rodrigo Garrido | Reuters
Long-term Covid is more common among women than men, according to federal data.
More than 17% of women have had long-term Covid at some point during the pandemic, compared with 11% of men, according to data from the US Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics released this month.
Long-term Covid is defined as symptoms occurring three months or more after infection. The latest data was collected through an online survey of more than 41,000 adults over the two weeks ending October 17.
Women are also more likely to suffer from severe long-term Covid, the research showed. About 2.4% of all women had symptoms that significantly limited their normal activities, compared with 1.3% of men, the data showed.
Overall, more than 14 percent of US adults had long-term Covid at some point during the pandemic, the survey found. According to data, seven percent of American adults currently have long-term Covid.
If those numbers were true for the general population, 36 million adults may have had long-term Covid at some point during the pandemic, while 18 million may be currently dealing with it.
According to the data, about 2% of adults in the US suffered from more severe long-term symptoms of Covid that significantly limited their daily activities. That would be equivalent to more than 5 million people in the general US adult population.
The Brookings Institution, ua separate analysisfound that as many as 4 million people in the US are unable to work due to prolonged Covid.
Long Covid presents a wide array of symptoms that range from mild to debilitating and affect multiple organ systems. Some of the most commonly reported symptoms include poor memory or brain fog, fatigue, shortness of breath and loss of smell, according to a recent study published in Journal of the American Medical Association.
The JAMA study also found that long-term Covid was more common among women. Almost 18 percent of Covid survivors who had symptoms for more than two months were women, while 10 percent were men.
The dominant variant of Covid and vaccination status can also play a role in how long people are likely to get Covid.
Nearly 60% of people who developed long-term Covid were infected with the original strain of the virus that emerged in China, while more than 17% were infected with the delta variant and more than 10% had omicron, according to the JAMA study.
The study showed that 87% of those who have had Covid for a long time were not vaccinated.
“There may be differences in these strains and how likely they are to cause Covid for a long time, which could teach us something about why this happens,” said Dr. Roy Perlis, lead author of the study and co-director of the Center for Quantitative Health at Massachusetts General Hospital.
The JAMA study, published last week, looked at more than 16,000 adults who tested positive for Covid. The data was collected from February 2021 to July 2022 from a national online survey conducted every six weeks called the Covid States Project.
Scientists do not yet understand the root cause of long-lasting Covid, although there is a growing consensus that it is likely several different conditions rather than a single disease. The National Institutes of Health is enrollment in a massive studycalled Recovery, to precisely define the different types of long-term Covid, identify risk factors and develop tests and treatments.
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