What is Long COVID?
If you have Long COVID and are looking for information or support, here are some good options.
Long COVID describes long-term symptoms following a Covid-19 infection. Long COVID is an umbrella term, and can be used to describe patients with a diverse range of symptoms, experiences, and care opportunities.
It can affect people with post-ICU syndrome, those hospitalized or not hospitalized during acute Covid-19 illness, people with visible organ damage, people with multi-system long-term symptoms that don’t always show up on tests, and people with initially mild or fully asymptomatic infections who develop long-term symptoms weeks or months later.
Long COVID is a complex chronic post-viral condition1 that shares many similarities with (or can lead to) known complex chronic conditions like myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS). Like other post-viral conditions, research shows that Long COVID can be triggered by a mild or even asymptomatic infection.
Millions of people have developed this condition, many may not recover or fully recover,2 and most are facing drastic care shortages and institutional bias – including skepticism that these illnesses even exist. Requiring history of a positive PCR test results to validate Long COVID is a biased approach that does not consider gender disparities in testing accuracy or testing access issues – which tend to impact marginalized populations more significantly.
Long COVID is estimated to develop in 12-30% of all Covid-19 cases, including in people who had fully asymptomatic infections. Over 10 million people in the United States alone could be experiencing Long COVID. As Dr. Fauci has pointed out, Long COVID may still develop from Omicron infections, and in fully vaccinated individuals. It can affect children, adults and elders.
1 A recent preprint from the National Institutes of Health performed autopsies and found the SARS-CoV-2 virus was present in multiple anatomic sites more than 200 days after patients first reported symptoms.
2 “First wave” Covid-19 infections have resulted in some Long COVID patients being sick for over two years, without any signs of recovery.