Lengthy Covid impacts girls greater than males, based on a nationwide survey

A woman receives a dose of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine during the coronavirus pandemic at a sports stadium in Vina del Mar, Chile, April 22, 2021.

Rodrigo Garrido | Reuters

Long Covid is more common in women than men, according to federal data.

According to data from the US Census Bureau and National Center for Health Statistics released this month, more than 17% of women have had long-Covid at some point during the pandemic, compared to 11% of men.

Long Covid was defined as the appearance of symptoms for three months or more after infection. The latest data was collected through an online survey of more than 41,000 adults in the two weeks ended October 17.

Women were also more likely to suffer from more severe long Covid, according to the survey. According to the data, around 2.4% of all women experienced symptoms that significantly limited their normal activities, compared to 1.3% of men.

Overall, more than 14% of US adults had long-Covid at some point during the pandemic, the survey found. Seven percent of adults in the US currently have long-term Covid, according to the data.

If these numbers were true for the general population, 36 million adults could be long ill with Covid at some point during the pandemic, while 18 million could be struggling with it currently.

According to the data, about 2% of US adults have suffered from more severe long-term Covid symptoms that have severely restricted their daily activities. That would equate to more than 5 million people in the general adult US population.

The Brookings Institution, in a separate analysis, found as many as 4 million people in the US are unable to work due to long-term Covid.

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Long Covid exhibits a wide spectrum of symptoms, ranging from mild to debilitating, affecting multiple organ systems. 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 the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The JAMA study also found that long Covid was more common in women. Almost 18% of Covid survivors who had symptoms for more than two months were women, while 10% were men.

The dominant Covid variant and vaccination status may also play a role in how likely people are to have long-term illnesses from Covid.

According to the JAMA study, nearly 60% of people who had long had Covid were infected with the original strain of the virus that emerged in China, while more than 17% infected the Delta variant and more than 10% had Omicron.

The study found that 87% of those who had long had Covid were unvaccinated.

“There may be differences between these strains and how likely they are to cause long covid, which could teach us something about why this is happening,” said Dr. Roy Perlis, the study’s lead author and co-director of the Center for Quantitative Health at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The JAMA study, released last week, looked at more than 16,000 adults who tested positive for Covid. Data was collected from February 2021 to July 2022 from a national online survey called the Covid States Project, conducted every six weeks.

Scientists don’t yet understand the underlying cause of Long Covid, although there’s a growing consensus that it’s likely multiple different conditions and not a single disease. The National Institutes of Health are enrolling a massive study called Recover to pinpoint the different types of long-term Covid, identify risk factors, and develop tests and treatments.

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