JERUSALEM — At least 17 million people in the European Union may have had long-term symptoms of COVID-19 in the first two years of the coronavirus pandemic, with women more likely to suffer from the condition than men, new research suggests. announced the World Health Organization on Tuesday.
The study, conducted for WHO/Europe, is unclear whether symptoms that persist, recur or appear for the first time at least one month after a coronavirus infection are more common in vaccinated or unvaccinated people. At least 17 million people meet the WHO criteria Long COVID-19— with symptoms lasting at least three months in 2020 and 2021, the report said.
“Millions of people in our region spanning Europe and Central Asia are suffering from debilitating symptoms many months after their initial infection with COVID-19,” said Hans-Henry P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, during a conference in Tel Aviv.
Modeling also suggests that women are twice as likely as men to survive Long COVID-19, and the risk increases dramatically among severe infections requiring hospitalization, the report said. One in three women and one in five men are likely to develop Long COVID-19, according to the report.
“Knowing how many people are affected and for how long is important for health systems and government agencies to develop rehabilitation and support services,” said Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Indicators and Evaluation, which conducted the research for WHO.
The study, which presents estimates rather than actual numbers of people affected, follows some other recent research into the constellation of longer-term symptoms following coronavirus infections.
American Veterans Affairs Survey, published in Nature Medicine in May provided new evidence of this Persistent COVID-19 can occur even after outbreaks of infections in vaccinated peopleand that older people face a higher risk of long-term effects. The study showed that about a third who had sudden infections showed signs of Long COVID.
A separate report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that within a year of initial coronavirus infection, 1 in 4 adults 65 and older had at least one potential long-term health problem with COVID-19, compared with 1 in 5 younger adults .
Most people with COVID-19 make a full recovery. But the WHO report in Europe on Tuesday estimated that 10% to 20% develop medium- and long-term symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath and cognitive dysfunction.
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