CDC: Long COVID Responsible for Over 3500 Deaths

A new report looked at mortality over a 2 ½ year period, and the epidemiology of who was most affected.

CDC


In a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study published today, the investigators reported that 3544 people’s death certificates cited Long COVID as a cause or contributing factor of death.

The study looked back over the period from January 2020 to June 2022, and the percentage of COVID-19 deaths with Long COVID peaked in June 2021 (1.2%) and in April 2022 (3.8%), according to the investigators.

Overall, in the United States, this accounted for a very small percentage of deaths (0.3%) of the 1,021,487 COVID-19 related deaths.

Investigators looked at deaths using the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD–10) cause-of-death code U07.1 and literal text with keywords referring to PASC or long COVID. Data was based on death records received and processed by the National Center for Health Statistics as of October 7, 2022.

Who Was Most Affected?
The Long COVID death rate from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022, was highest among adults aged 85 and over, non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native people, and males. Non-Hispanic Asian people had the lowest death rate, according to the report.

Here are some specific statistics from the study:

  • Males accounted for 56% of COVID-19 deaths and females were 44.%. In contrast, Long COVID deaths were more similar between males (51.5%) and females (48.5%).
  • People aged 75–84 accounted for the highest percentage of Long COVID deaths by age (28.8%), followed by those aged 85 and over (28.1%) and 65–74 (21.5%)
  • The majority of Long COVID deaths occurred among non-Hispanic White people (78.5%). Non-Hispanic Black people accounted for the next highest percentage of long COVID deaths (10.1%), followed by Hispanic people (7.8%). Non-Hispanic AIAN, non-Hispanic Asian, and non-Hispanic multiracial people accounted for less than 2% of Long COVID deaths per group.

The Toll of Long COVID
In another unrelated report, 3 months after suffering from acute COVID-19 infection, 6.2% of patients had persistent cognitive or respiratory problems or fatigue in 2020 and 2021, a JAMA study found. Specifically, the study found this subset of patients had persistent symptoms, including 3.7% with respiratory problems, 3.2% with persistent fatigue, pain or mood swings, and 2.2% with cognitive problems.

Long COVID continues to perplex clinicians and public health officials in trying to understand why some people continue to experience health issues months after acute COVID-19 infection. Long COVID can be known for a variety of names and in its description, the CDC calls it post-COVID conditions, and offers some insights about the condition including:

  • Post-COVID conditions are found more often in people who had severe COVID-19 illness, but anyone who has been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 can experience post-COVID conditions, even people who had mild illness or no symptoms from COVID-19.
  • People who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 and become infected might also be at higher risk of developing post-COVID conditions compared to people who were vaccinated and had breakthrough infections.
  • While most people with post-COVID conditions have evidence of infection or COVID-19 illness, in some cases, a person with post-COVID conditions may not have tested positive for the virus or known they were infected.

Reference

Ahmad Farida B, Anderson Robert N, Cisewski,Jodi A, Sutton, Paul D. Identification of deaths With post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 From death certificate literal text: United States, January 1, 2020–June 30, 2022. CDC. https://stacks.cdc.gov/view/cdc/121968




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