Health Library

5 facts about long COVID-19

A masked doctor shows her tablet to a masked patient.

June 6, 2022—At this point, millions of people around the world have had COVID-19. Most people get better in a few days or weeks. But some have symptoms that last longer—or that begin after they recover from the virus. That's what's known as long COVID-19.

Researchers are still learning about long COVID-19. But some recent studies have shed new light on the subject. Here are five facts we've learned about long COVID-19 and who it affects.

1. Long COVID-19 is common. According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 5 adults who get COVID-19 go on to experience long COVID-19. It is important to know that scientists are still working to find out what long COVID-19 is. Some studies use different definitions, and they may have different results. And as we learn more, these numbers may change.

2. It can affect anyone. Long COVID-19 symptoms can affect anyone. People of all ages, including children, have experienced long-term symptoms after having COVID-19. According to CDC, the risk is higher for people who had severe COVID-19. But even people who had no symptoms while they had COVID-19 have developed the condition.

3. Symptoms vary. Long COVID-19 can affect many different parts of the body. And different people can have different symptoms. According to CDC and the National Institutes of Health, symptoms of long COVID-19 include:

  • Aches and pains.
  • Anxiety.
  • Blood clots.
  • Breathing problems.
  • Changes to the sense of smell and taste.
  • Depression.
  • Fever.
  • Heart problems.
  • Kidney problems.
  • Tiredness.
  • Trouble thinking or concentrating.

4. Older people are at slightly higher risk. Long COVID-19 affects people of all ages. However, it seems to be more common among older adults. The CDC report found that 1 in 4 people over 65 may have had symptoms of long COVID-19.

5. Vaccines offer some protection. A recent study in Nature Medicine found that people who were vaccinated were 15% less likely to develop long COVID-19 symptoms. This study looked at vaccinated people who had COVID-19 in 2021, before the spread of the Omicron variants.

The best way to avoid long COVID-19 is to avoid getting COVID-19. That means staying up-to-date with vaccines and boosters. You can find the latest advice about how to prevent COVID-19 in our Coronavirus health topic center.

Read more features Related stories

This information is provided for educational purposes only. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare providers regarding medical care or treatment, as recommendations, services or resources are not a substitute for the advice or recommendation of an individual's physician or healthcare provider. Services or treatment options may not be covered under an individual's particular health plan.