Over 3,500 Americans died due to long COVID since 2020 – report

Science and Health

Some 3,544 Americans have died due to long COVID since the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Long COVID is a general term for a wide range of symptoms that COVID-19 patients may experience weeks or even months after recovering from the virus, ranging from fatigue to difficulty breathing to “brain fog.”

The report analyzed death certificates from between January 2020 and June 2022 which listed COVID-19 as a cause-of-death and mentioned long COVID.

The highest percentage of long COVID deaths was reported among patients between the ages of 75-84, followed by those aged 85 and over (28.1%) and those aged 65-74 (21.5%).

While the recorded deaths represent just 0.3% of all the deaths caused by COVID-19, the NCHS stressed that it may have underestimated the actual number of deaths as the clinical guidance concerning the identification and reporting of long COVID has evolved over time and the data may change as more information is received.

Kinesiologist Maria Luz Porra puts on a mask shield before checking patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in an intensive care unit of a hospital, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina October 16, 2020. (credit: AGUSTIN MARCARIAN/REUTERS)

The new report will be used to inform CDC guidance on how to report long COVID and deaths caused by long COVID.

According to the CDC, over 40% of adults in the US have had COVID-19 and nearly one in five of infected adults have reported suffering from long COVID.

Previous studies have shown severe COVID-19 patients at increased risk of death after recovery

The report published on Wednesday comes after a number of studies which found that patients who suffered from severe COVID-19 had a heightened risk of death or hospitalization in the year following infection.

According to a peer-reviewed study published in PLOS Medicine in January, COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized due to their illness were more than twice as likely to be rehospitalized or die more than a week after being discharged from the hospital compared to people in the general population.

Additionally, a peer-reviewed study published in Frontiers in Medicine last December found that patients who recovered from severe COVID-19 were more than twice as likely to die within a year after infection than people who were not infected with COVID-19.

In that study, only 20% of the deaths recorded were caused by cardiovascular, respiratory and clotting problems, with the scientists stressing that more research should be conducted into why patients were dying from conditions seemingly unrelated to COVID-19.

The study additionally found that severe COVID-19 patients under the age of 65 were actually more likely to die within a year compared to COVID-19 patients over the age of 65.