Approximately 30% of patients with COVID-19 develop long-term illness

The analysis shows that individuals with diabetes, a higher BMI, or a history of hospitalization are more likely to have this condition.

Nearly 30% of individuals treated for COVID-19 developed well-known post-acute sequelae, also known as COVID-19 long, according to new study results from UCLA.1

In addition, individuals with diabetes, a high body mass index, or a history of hospitalization were most likely to have this condition.1

Meanwhile, individuals who were covered by Medicaid rather than commercial health insurance or who had undergone an organ transplant were less likely to develop prolonged COVID-19.1

The investigators said in a statement that those with commercial insurance had a twofold chance of developing long-term COVID compared to those who had Medicaid.2

Race, older age, and socioeconomic status were not associated with prolonged COVID, although these characteristics have been associated with severe disease and greater risk of death from COVID-19 in previous studies.1

“This study demonstrates the need for longitudinal follow-up of diverse groups of patients to understand the long course of COVID disease and to assess how individual factors, such as pre-existing co-morbidities, sociodemographic factors, vaccination status, and variant virus type, influence the type and persistence of Medicine, M.H., assistant professor of health sciences at UCSD David Geffen School of Medicine and medical director of the Extensivist Program, said in the statement.1

Among the 309 long-term COVID-19 infected individuals included in the study, the most common symptoms were fatigue and shortness of breath, with 31% and 15%, respectively, in hospitalized individuals. For outpatients, the most common symptom was loss of smell at 16%.1

UCLA investigators enrolled 1,038 individuals in the UCLA COVID Ambulatory Program between April 2020 and February 2021.1 There were 800 individuals who received treatment for COVID-19 in the hospital, and 238 individuals were treated as high-risk outpatients.1

The patients were severely ill with COVID-19, according to investigators.

The investigators were also able to control for factors, such as access and quality of care, that studies are often lacking.2

In the study, 309 individuals developed prolonged COVID-19, which was classified as such if the individual reported persistent symptoms on questionnaires at 60 or 90 days after infection or hospitalization.1

Two hundred and forty-six people who were hospitalized with long-term COVID virus, and 63 who were treated as outpatients had long-term COVID infection.2

The investigators said the study’s potential limitations included limited information about patients’ pre-existing conditions and a limited number of symptoms evaluated.1

“Because persistent symptoms can be subjective in nature, we need better tools to accurately diagnose protracted COVID and differentiate it from exacerbations of other emerging or chronic conditions. Finally, we need to ensure equitable access to outpatient prolonged COVID care.”1


1. A study from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that about 30% of COVID patients develop “long-term COVID.” EurekAlert. New release. April 18, 2022. Accessed April 20, 2022.

2. Yoo SM, Liu TC, Motwani Y, Sim MS et al. Factors associated with acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC) after symptomatic diagnosis of COVID-19 in inpatients and outpatients in a diverse group. y General Apprentice Med. 2022. doi: 10.1007/s11606-022-07523-3

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