Women are twice as likely as men to experience the long-term symptoms of Covid-19, according to a study.
Researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, US, estimate that globally 63 per cent of those with long Covid during the first two years of the pandemic were female.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines long Covid as symptoms that are present three months after becoming infected with Covid-19 with a minimum duration of two months.
The study, published recently in the journal JAMA, also found that the risk of developing long Covid increased dramatically for women who were hospitalised with the SARS-CoV-2 virus compared to men who also faced hospitalisation.
"Since SARS-CoV-2 first began to spread around the globe in 2020, three long COVID symptom clusters have prevented otherwise healthy people from fully recovering, keeping them from returning to work or school and even forcing them to seek further medical attention or other rehabilitative services," said Theo Vos, Professor of Health Metrics at IHME and the research paper's senior author.
The team estimates that in 2020 and 2021, around 51 per cent of long Covid patients complained of persistent fatigue with bodily pain or mood swings, 60 per cent reported that they suffered from respiratory issues, and 35 per cent reported cognitive problems.
The researchers also found that In 38 per cent of Long Covid cases, two or all three of the symptom clusters overlapped.
"This important research estimates the proportion, severity, and duration of long Covid symptoms that can help health communities and policymakers understand the need for proper medical treatment and adequate access to services to help people recover," study lead author Sarah Wulf Hanson, research scientist at IHME, said in a statement.
The average duration of long Covid symptoms was nine months for those who were hospitalised and four months for those who were not, the researchers said.
About 15 per cent of those with long Covid symptoms three months after becoming infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus continued to experience symptoms even at 12 months, they added.