Most 'long COVID' patients were not initially hospitalized with the infection, study finds

About 76% of people who have been diagnosed with the post-coronavirus health condition known as "long COVID" were not sick enough to be hospitalized when they were initially infected, according to a study released Wednesday. 

More than two years into the pandemic, the lingering symptoms of COVID-19 that many patients experience have come under the microscope. 

The study released Wednesday, which was conducted by the non-profit FAIR Health and has not been peer-reviewed, analyzed more than 78,000 people who were diagnosed with long COVID between October 2021 and January 2022. 


A sign for Covid-19 Testing is seen at the entrance to a shopping center. (Credit: Rooney Quinn/Getty Images)

About three-quarters, 75.8%, of long COVID patients were not previously hospitalized with the disease. 

While the elderly are most vulnerable to serious complications from COVID-19, people between the ages of 36 and 50 were most susceptible to developing long COVID. 

Women made up about 60% of long COVID patients, even though females are less likely to die from COVID-19 than men. The study further found that 81.6% of all females with long COVID had not been hospitalized, but just 67.5% of all males with long COVID had not been hospitalized. 


The most common symptoms reported by coronavirus long-haulers were breathing problems, cough, and fatigue, but other less reported symptoms include heart beat abnormalities and sleep disorders. 

About a third of people who had long COVID did not have any pre-existing conditions, and some of them didn't develop any symptoms at all when first infected, according to the study. 

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Studies vary on what proportion of people who contract COVID-19 develop long-term symptoms. A UCLA study last month found that 30% of coronavirus infections lead to long COVID, while University of Michigan researchers found that about 43% of people develop lingering symptoms. 

President Biden directed Health Secretary Xavier Becerra last month to "coordinate a new effort across the federal government to develop and issue the first-ever interagency national research action plan on Long COVID."