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Long-term Covid hits women more than men, national survey finds

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

Rodrigo Garrido | Reuters

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

More than 17% of women have had 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 was defined as the presence of symptoms for three or more months after infection. The most recent data was collected from an online survey of over 41,000 adults during the two weeks ending 17 October.

The study found that women are also more likely to suffer from more severe long-term Covid. According to the data, about 2.4% of all women had symptoms that significantly limited their normal activities, compared with 1.3% of men.

Overall, the study found that at some point during the pandemic, more than 14% of US adults had long-term Covid infections. According to the data, seven percent of US adults currently have Covid-19.

If these numbers were true for the general population, 36 million adults could have had long-term Covid at some point during the pandemic, and 18 million may currently be dealing with it.

According to the data, about 2% of adults in the US suffered from more severe long-term Covid symptoms that significantly limited their daily activities. This is equivalent to more than 5 million people in the total US adult population.

Brookings Institution, in separate analysisfound that as many as 4 million people in the US are unable to work due to prolonged Covid.

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Long-term Covid presents with a wide range of symptoms that range from mild to debilitating and affect multiple organ systems. According to a recent study published in Journal of the American Medical Association.

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

Dominant Covid variant and vaccination status can also play a role in how likely people are to get prolonged Covid.

According to a JAMA study, almost 60% of people who developed long-term Covid were infected with the original strain of the virus that originated in China, while more than 17% were infected with the delta variant and more than 10% with omicron.

The study showed that 87% of those who had been ill with Covid for a long time were not vaccinated.

“There may be differences in these strains and how likely they are to cause long-term Covid, 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, included more than 16,000 adults who tested positive for Covid. The data was collected from February 2021 to July 2022 in a six-week national online survey called the Covid States Project.

Scientists do not yet understand the underlying cause of long-term Covid, although there is a growing consensus that it is more likely to be several different conditions rather than a single disease. The National Institutes of Health is conducting a massive study called Recover to pinpoint different types of long-term Covid, identify risk factors and develop tests and treatments.


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