Persistent COVID-19 symptoms in a community study of 606,434 people in England.


Long COVID remains a broadly defined syndrome, with estimates of prevalence and duration varying widely. We use data from rounds 3-5 of the REACT-2 study (n = 508,707; September 2020 - February 2021), a representative community survey of adults in England, and replication data from round 6 (n = 97,717; May 2021) to estimate the prevalence and identify predictors of persistent symptoms lasting 12 weeks or more; and unsupervised learning to cluster individuals by reported symptoms. At 12 weeks in rounds 3-5, 37.7% experienced at least one symptom, falling to 21.6% in round 6. Female sex, increasing age, obesity, smoking, vaping, hospitalisation with COVID-19, deprivation, and being a healthcare worker are associated with higher probability of persistent symptoms in rounds 3-5, and Asian ethnicity with lower probability. Clustering analysis identifies a subset of participants with predominantly respiratory symptoms. Managing the long-term sequelae of COVID-19 will remain a major challenge for affected individuals and their families and for health services.

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