NIH Publishes Results of Long COVID Study

Long COVID, also known as postacute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), is a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems that people experience after being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

To help identify risk factors and causes of Long COVID, in early 2021, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) created the $1.15 billion RECOVER Initiative. The Initiative, which includes several Long COVID studies, seeks to better understand, prevent and treat the long-term health effects related to COVID.

On May 25, 2023, NIH published the results from one of its Long COVID studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The study titled, Development of a Definition of Postacute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 Infection, aimed to develop a definition of Long COVID and describe Long COVID frequencies across cohorts, vaccination status, and number of infections. Study researchers identified 12 key symptoms of Long COVID. The symptoms are: 

  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Post-exertional malaise
  • Chronic cough
  • Brain fog
  • Thirst
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Issues with sexual desire or capacity
  • Abnormal movements (including tremors, slowed movements, rigidity, or sudden, unintended and uncontrollable jerky movements)

In addition to identifying the key symptoms of Long Covid, the study used a point scoring system based on how likely the symptom was a true signal of Long Covid versus another health condition.

Study researchers said the findings are still preliminary, and it is too soon to use the symptom list and the study’s scoring system to diagnose Long Covid or determine eligibility for disability benefits.

Learn more about Long COVID and NIH’s RECOVER Initiative.