JAMA study: women twice as likely as men to develop long COVID

Published October 10, 2022

SEATTLE, Wash., October 10, 2022 — A new peer-reviewed paper published today in JAMA reveals who’s more likely to develop long COVID months after initially falling ill from the virus. Researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine estimate that globally 63% of those with long COVID during the first two years of the pandemic were female and that they were twice as likely as men to experience long COVID. IHME also found that the risk of developing long COVID increased dramatically for women who were hospitalized with the virus compared to men who also faced hospitalization.

“Since SARS-CoV-2 first began to spread around the globe in 2020, three long COVID symptom clusters have prevented otherwise healthy people from fully recovering, keeping them from returning to work or school and even forcing them to seek further medical attention or other rehabilitative services,” said Dr. Theo Vos, Professor of Health Metrics at IHME and the paper’s senior author.

IHME estimates that in 2020 and 2021, some 51% of long COVID patients complained of persistent fatigue with bodily pain or mood swings, 60% reported that they suffered from respiratory issues, and 35% reported cognitive problems. In 38% of #LongCovid cases, two or all three of the symptom clusters overlapped.

“This important research estimates the proportion, severity, and duration of long COVID symptoms that can help health communities and policymakers understand the need for proper medical treatment and adequate access to services to help people recover,” said lead author Dr. Sarah Wulf Hanson, research scientist at IHME.

The average duration of long COVID symptoms nine months for those who were hospitalized and four months for those who weren’t. 15% of those with long COVID symptoms three months after becoming infected with COVID continued to experience symptoms even at 12 months.

The World Health Organization defines long COVID as symptoms that are present three months after becoming infected with COVID with a minimum duration of two months.

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About the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent global health research organization at the University of Washington School of Medicine that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them. IHME is committed to transparency and makes this information widely available so that policymakers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions on allocating resources to improve population health.


Scientific Publication

Estimated global proportions of individuals with persistent fatigue, cognitive, and respiratory symptom clusters following symptomatic COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021