Editor’s note: Find the latest long COVID news and guidance in Medscape’s Long COVID Resource Center.
The rate of people experiencing long COVID appears to be stabilizing at about 1 in 10 adults who have ever been infected with the virus, new government tracking data shows.
When taking into account people who’ve never had COVID-19, an estimated 6% of the U.S. adult population had long COVID as of June 2023, down from 7.5% in June 2022. That’s according to a new CDC report analyzing data from the monthly online Household Pulse Survey. The survey tracks pandemic related health data, including mental health indicators and insurance coverage.
Among people who have ever had COVID, the percentage of people reporting they have long COVID has fallen from 19% last summer to around 11% in January and that rate has held steady throughout 2023. The report authors said the reason for the stabilization could be a combination of factors, including fewer people being infected, less severe infections, better treatments such as antivirals, and protection by vaccines.
As part of the survey, people are asked if they’ve had symptoms lasting at least 3 months that they didn’t have prior to COVID-19 infection. Symptoms could include tiredness or fatigue, difficulty thinking or concentrating, memory problems, difficulty breathing, joint or muscle pain, fast heartbeat, chest pain, dizziness on standing, menstrual changes, changes to taste or smell, or inability to exercise.
More than 1 in 4 people who have long COVID said in the survey that the condition significantly limits their ability to carry out day-to-day activities, compared to the time before they had COVID-19. The rate of people reporting significant limitations has remained steady over time, the authors wrote.
Last month, the federal government announced the formation of the Office of Long COVID Research and Practice to head up the government’s response to aiding the estimated 7.7 million to 23 million people in the U.S. who have long COVID. The cornerstone of the office’s work is coordinating a $1.15 billion research program, which includes clinical trials, called the RECOVER Initiative.
CDC: “Long COVID and Significant Activity Limitation Among Adults, by Age — United States, June 1–13, 2022, to June 7–19, 2023.”
National Center for Health Statistics: “Household Pulse Survey.”
DHHS: “HHS Announces the Formation of the Office of Long COVID Research and Practice and Launch of Long COVID Clinical Trials Through the RECOVER Initiative.”