Medical Technology

More Than 100 Million People All Over the World Have or Have Had Long COVID

Editor’s note: Get the most recent COVID-19 news and guidelines in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

More than 40% of COVID-19 survivors around the world have suffered long-term effects following recovery according to an new study by researchers at the University of Michigan.

Based on the number of cases reported worldwide by mid-October, this means that more than 100 million people have experienced chronic health issues or are experiencing health issues following a COVID infection.

“The health effects of COVID-19 are likely to be long-lasting and could cause marked stress on the healthcare system,” the researchers wrote.

The team of researchers reviewed 40 studies that examined patients’ experiences with long-term COVID. This is a term used to describe persistent or new symptoms that manifest within 4 or more weeks of the onset of symptoms. The studies covered more than 886,000 patients who tested positive for COVID-19.

The prevalence of long COVID was 43 percent, according to the research team. The prevalence of long COVID was 57% for patients who needed hospitalization.

The rate was 49% for women, and 37% among men, the researchers found.

The rate varied also based on location, with the highest recorded in Asia at 49%. Europe and North America followed behind at 44 30% and 3% respectively.

Based on a World Health Organization estimate of 237 million worldwide COVID-19 infections in mid-October, more than 100 million people still experience or had previously experienced long-term health issues as a result of the coronavirus, the researchers estimated.

Fatigue was the most frequent symptom, which affected 23% of patients who had persistent conditions. 13% of patients reported other symptoms such as shortness, insomnia and joint pain.

Researchers have noted that the study didn’t cover all cases of COVID. The researchers point out that COVID-19 sufferers could develop other serious complications and conditions, such as multisystem inflammation syndrome in children, chronic renal disease and heart disease and chronic fatigue syndrome.

They also wrote that more research was needed to determine the connection between COVID-19 and these issues and the requirements for people living with them.

The study was published on a preprint server on Tuesday and hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed.

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