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About 30% of COVID-19 patients develop ‘long COVID’

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NEW UCLA research finds that 30 per cent of people treated for COVID-19 developed Post Acute Sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC), most commonly known as “Long COVID.”

  People with a history of hospitalisation, diabetes, and higher body mass index were most likely to develop the condition, while those covered by Medicaid, as opposed to commercial health insurance, or had undergone an organ transplant were less likely to develop it. Surprisingly, ethnicity, older age, and socioeconomic status were not associated with the syndrome even though those characteristics have been linked with severe illness and greater risk of death from COVID-19.

  Of the 309 people with long COVID studied, the most persistent symptoms were fatigue and shortness of breath (31% and 15%, respectively) in hospitalised persons, and loss of sense of smell (16%) in outpatients.

  The incidence and risk factors of Long COVID, and even how to define the syndrome, have remained unclear throughout the pandemic. The researchers sought evaluate its association with demographics and clinical characteristics in order to devise the most effective treatments.

  The UCLA researchers studied 1,038 people who were enrolled in the UCLA COVID Ambulatory Program between April 2020 and February 2021. Of those, 309 developed Long COVID. A person was determined to have the syndrome if they reported persistent symptoms on questionnaires 60 or 90 days after infection or hospitalisation.

  Potential weaknesses in the study include the subjective nature of how patients rated their symptoms, the limited number of symptoms the researchers evaluated, and limited information about patients’ pre-existing conditions.

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