More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of millions of people around the world have been infected. Although most recover quickly, some do not. These patients experience persistent symptoms, a condition now called Long COVID. Estimates range, but it appears that somewhere between 10 and 30 percent of COVID-19 patients will experience symptoms for an extended period of time. One study found half of patients had at least one symptom six months later. Given these estimates, that would mean Long COVID could be impacting between 10 million to 30 million Americans, at a minimum.
As defined by the World Health Organization, the condition can affect people’s ability to work and carry on with life’s activities, and has a significant impact on communities, economies and society as a whole.
This website is a one-stop resource for patients, businesses, healthcare providers, insurers, scientists and others navigating the emerging evidence and complex impact of Long COVID. It is brought to you by the Brown University School of Public Health’s Long COVID Initiative, a coalition of researchers, clinicians and strategic communicators. We are committed to closing knowledge gaps and translating the latest Long COVID evidence into accessible guidance for all.
Long COVID refers to the signs and symptoms that continue or develop after a person’s initial COVID-19 infection. As many as 30 to 50% of people who had COVID-19 report experiencing at least one symptom that lasts weeks or often even months after the initial infection. For people with more severe COVID-19 infections, up to 80% may experience new or ongoing symptoms. This is often referred to as Long COVID. Other names include “long-haul COVID”, “post-acute COVID-19 syndrome” and “persistent COVID symptoms.”
Long COVID can cause a wide range of symptoms, lasting for different lengths of time and varying in severity. For some, symptoms may be mild while others might become increasingly incapacitated. Symptoms may persist after initial infection, return after a period without symptoms, or emerge following an initial infection without symptoms.
Common symptoms of Long COVID are:
Anyone infected with COVID-19 is at risk of developing Long COVID, including children, as well as individuals who had mild or even asymptomatic infections. Researchers are continuing to study if there are certain factors or underlying conditions that can increase an individual’s risk of experiencing Long COVID symptoms. However, new research indicates that four factors may increase the chances of Long COVID: high levels of viral RNA early during an infection, the presence of certain autoantibodies, the reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus and having Type 2 diabetes.
The CDC recommends that people visit their primary care doctor if they experience new or ongoing symptoms four or more weeks after their COVID-19 diagnosis. Patients and their doctors may develop a plan to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Additionally, doctors may encourage patients to seek treatment at a rehabilitation center or post-COVID care clinic. Rehabilitation has been useful among elderly patients with COVID-19 for improving respiratory function, quality of life, and anxiety.
Preventing COVID-19 infection is the best way to prevent Long COVID. Some steps we can take include:
Among people with severe COVID-19, as many as 50-70% report impaired quality of life three to six months after hospitalization. Other reports suggest that some people with Long COVID have not been able to return to work or may have to reduce their work hours or modify their duties due to persistent health issues. Additionally, financial hardships due to the initial COVID-19 infection may be compounded by new costs and lost income due to Long COVID.
Francesca Beaudoin, MD, MS, PhD
Interim Chair of the Department of Epidemiology; Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Health Services, Policy and Practice, Brown University School of Public Health
Laura Chambers, MPH, PhD
Lead Research Scientist, People, Place & Health Collective; Brown University School of Public Health
Megan Ranney, MD, MPH
Academic Dean; Director of Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health; Brown University School of Public Health
|03/08/2023||Boston Globe||A new study found 59 percent of long-COVID patients had organ damage, but experts say it’s not that simple|
|02/07/2023||Public Good News||How to approach long COVID treatment|
|01/25/2023||NBC 10 WJAR||Long COVID Initiative at Brown University addresses misinformation|
|01/19/2023||Public Good News||What researchers know about long COVID|
|01/13/2023||PBS: Amanpour & Co.||Long COVID Doctor: “We Don’t Know What We’re Dealing With”|
|01/05/2023||National Journal||Long COVID sidelined in Congress|
|12/22/2022||Washington Post||5 big questions we still need to answer about long covid|
|12/14/2022||Daily Mail||More than 3,500 Americans have died from long Covid, CDC report finds|
|12/14/2022||Washington Post||Long covid can be deadly, CDC study finds|
|11/25/2022||Washington Post||Desperate covid long-haulers turn to costly, unproven treatments|
|11/11/2022||Rhode Island PBS||Generation Rising: Long COVID|
|09/21/2022||Providence Business News||Brown initiative breaks down long COVID in the workplace|
|08/29/2022||Verywell Health||COVID-19 Increases Risk of Brain Conditions for 2 Years After Infection, Study Finds|
|07/22/2022||Public Health Out Loud Podcast||Long Covid: Get the Facts|
|07/01/2022||Providence Journal||What causes long COVID? Brown University researchers seeks answers for those who suffer|
|05/18/2022||Public Good News||What it’s like to live with long COVID?|
|03/13/2022||Rhode Island PBS||Rhode Island PBS Weekly- Long COVID|
|02/25/2022||Rolling Stone||First They Got Long COVID. Then, It Made Them Homeless|
|02/01/2022||CBS MoneyWatch||A cause of America's labor shortage: Millions with long COVID|
|12/24/2021||Wired||To Help People With Long COVID, Scientists Need to Define It|
|10/06/2021||Rolling Stone||People With Long COVID Are Risking Their Health Going Back to the Office|
|09/27/2021||Crooked||The Long And Short Of Long COVID with Dr. Ashish Jha|
|09/22/2021||The Brown Daily Herald||Long COVID initiative investigates long-term COVID-19 effects|
|09/10/2021||WPRI||Brown University launches initiative to research effects of long COVID|
|09/08/2021||Boston Globe||Brown University initiative aims to offer facts and advice on ‘long COVID’|
|09/08/2021||Washington Post||Biden seeks pandemic reset as cases and deaths flare|