CDC Report Finds Potentially Millions of Americans Have Long COVID

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
September 28, 2023COVID-19
CDC Report Finds Potentially Millions of Americans Have Long COVID
Exterior of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta on Oct. 13, 2014. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

About 7 percent of all U.S. adults said they suffered from long COVID after contracting COVID-19, according to a report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday.

The CDC report found that some 6.9 percent of American adults said they experienced long COVID in a survey last year, and about 3.4 adults stated they were currently suffering from long COVID when the survey was carried out. Based on U.S. Census data, that would mean that some 18 million adults may have suffered from the set of symptoms.

Definitions of long COVID differ, but it can be described as a set of symptoms that lasts about three months or longer after a COVID-19 infection. The CDC’s Tuesday report defined it as symptoms that last for at least three months, but in August, the agency had defined long COVID as having symptoms that last four weeks or longer.

“People who have had COVID-19 may continue to have symptoms or develop new symptoms months after being infected with SARS-CoV-2. This can lead to long-term health and economic impacts on those affected and on society,” the CDC report stated.

The report also said that “prevalence estimates were higher among women compared with men, adults ages 35–49 compared with other age groups, and adults living in more rural areas compared with those living in large central metropolitan areas.”

“Prevalence estimates were lower among Asian adults compared with other racial and ethnic groups,” and long COVID was estimated to be lower among “adults with family incomes of 400 percent or more of the federal poverty level compared with those with incomes from 200 percent through 399 percent of the federal poverty level,” the CDC said.

Long COVID ‘Pitfalls’ Revealed

Meanwhile, a new analysis published in the BMJ found that there are a number of “pitfalls” with many studies about long COVID.

“High rates of long COVID or post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC) continue to be reported in academic journals and subsequently filtered to the public” and concluded that some publications and agencies overestimate the condition due to “overly broad definitions, lack of control groups, inappropriate control groups, and other methodological flaws,” researchers led by University of San Francisco researcher Tracy Beth Hoeg wrote.

The problem, they added, is “further compounded by inclusion of poorly conducted studies into systematic reviews and meta-analyses that overstate the risk. Because of the poor practices, it has “fed to the public by the media and social media, raising undue concern and anxiety” about long COVID, the researchers wrote.

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A paramedic administers a nasal swab at a drive-through COVID-19 test site in Ottawa on Sept. 20, 2020. (The Canadian Press/Justin Tang)

A Norwegian study of children and younger people between the ages of 12 and 15 used a modified definition for what constituted long COVID. It found there was a similarity between the long COVID group and the control group, the researchers noted.

They also found: “When limiting studies to those with acceptable [long COVID] definitions and appropriate controls, we find little to no difference in the prevalence of reported persistent symptoms in children by 4 weeks or in adults younger than 50 years by 12 weeks post-infection compared with controls.”

More Federal Money Allocated

The CDC report’s publication comes just days after the federal government awarded some $45 million in grants to help clinics treating long COVID develop new models of care and expand access, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Nine clinics will receive $1 million grants annually over the next five years through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality within HHS, the department said.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is supporting patients, doctors and caregivers by providing science-based best practices for treating long COVID, maintaining access to insurance coverage, and protecting the rights of workers as they return to jobs while coping with the uncertainties of their illness,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra last week.

The funding will be used for increasing in-person and virtual visits, establishing new satellite clinics, and an education initiative aimed at growing referrals. Limited knowledge and acceptance among clinicians has contributed to delays in diagnoses and referrals.

Research is underway for treatments. The National Institute of Health is conducting a $1.15 billion effort, the RECOVER program, which launched two clinical trials in July that will evaluate at least four potential treatments.

New Data

Earlier this week, the CDC published data that shows COVID-19 hospital admissions have dropped 4.3 percent for the week ending Sept. 16, coming after multiple consecutive increases in reported hospitalizations for the virus. Despite there being a recent rise in COVID-19 cases in recent days, CDC trends show that it’s far lower than previous “surges” of the respiratory illness in prior years.

The EG.5 variant, or “Eris,” accounts for about 24.5 percent of all COVID-19 cases, according to the CDC’s tracker. And FL.1.5.1, known as Fornax, is estimated to be responsible for some 13.7 percent of COVID-19 infections, according to the CDC.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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