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Long COVID statistics

Long COVID is a post-viral illness following infection with COVID-19, and symptoms can last months or years — and be disabling enough that you cannot work.

Logan Sachon

By

Logan Sachon

Logan Sachon

Senior Managing Editor, News & Research

Logan Sachon is the senior managing editor of news and research at Policygenius, where she oversees our insurance and financial news, surveys, and data studies. Previously, she co-founded The Billfold, a groundbreaking personal finance site for millennials named one of TIME's 25 best blogs of the year.

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Long COVID-19 is a post-viral syndrome with lingering symptoms that affects people who have had COVID-19, including people who have had the COVID vaccine. Long-haul COVID symptoms vary by patient but can include include respiratory symptoms, heart symptoms, neurologic symptoms, digestive symptoms, and mental health symptoms.

Long COVID symptoms include tiredness, fatigue, fever, post-exertional malaise, difficulty breathing, cough, chest pain, heart palpitations, brain fog, sleep problems, headache, lightheadedness, pins-and-needles feelings, change in smell or taste, depression, anxiety, diarrhea, stomach pain, joint or muscle pain, rash, and changes in menstrual cycles. [1]

Long COVID is a common result of COVID infection 

More than half of Americans have had COVID-19, and data suggest that nearly of third of those people have at least one symptom of long COVID, known formally as Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV2 (PASC), and colloquially as post COVID syndrome, post COVID conditions, or long-haul COVID. [2]

31% of North Americans who have had COVID-19 (and 43% of people who have had it globally) have long COVID, also known as long haul COVID. [3]

22 million to 43 million adults in the U.S. are estimated to have long COVID. [4]

7 million to 14 million adults in the U.S. are estimated to have disabling long COVID and are unable to work at their pre-infection level. [5]

Long COVID can last months or years — or longer

91% of people with long COVID report that their recovery time exceeded 35 weeks. 

85.8% of people with long COVID report experiencing relapses triggered by exercise, physical or mental activity, and stress. [6]   55% of patients who had been hospitalized for COVID had at least one symptom two years later. [7]

Long COVID can affect anyone 

75.8% of people with a U09.9 diagnosis code (“post-COVID condition, unspecified”), a shorthand for long COVID, were not hospitalized for COVID. 

59.8% of people with a U09.9 diagnosis code are female. 

40.2% of people with a U09.9 diagnosis code are male. 

30.7% of people with lU09.9 diagnosis code had no preexisting chronic comorbidities. [8]  

People who have been vaccinated against COVID have only a 15% lower risk of getting long COVID. [9]

Americans underestimate the prevalence of long COVID 

A 2022 survey by Policygenius found that over half of Americans underestimate the prevalence of long COVID among people who have had a COVID-19 infection.

61% of Americans ⁠— well over half the adult population ⁠— underestimate the prevalence of long COVID based on current data (8% said “none (0%)”; 27% said “up to 10%”; 25% said “up to 20%). [10]  

31% of Americans knew or guessed the prevalence of long COVID within the range of numbers being reported in North America and globally (31% to 43%) (16% said “up to 30%”; 8% said “up to 40%”; 6% said “up to 50%”). [11]

9% of Americans overestimate the prevalence of long COVID among people who have had COVID based on current data, believing it to be “greater than 50%." [12]

Americans are unprepared for the financial repercussions of long COVID

One million adults in the U.S. are estimated to be out of work at any given time due to long COVID, and 45% of people with long COVID had reduced their work hours. [13] Most Americans do not have disability insurance, [14] and many Americans have not made plans to be out of work for many months due to illness.

44% of Americans say they don’t know how they would cover expenses beyond any applicable insurance payouts, or would not be able to cover their expenses, if they were unable to work for more than three months due to a chronic illness like long COVID-19. [15]

54% of people making less than $40,000 say they don’t know how they would cover expenses beyond any applicable insurance payouts, or would not be able to cover their expenses, if they were unable to work for more than three months due to a chronic illness like long COVID. [16]