True prevalence of long-COVID in a nationwide, population cohort study

Claire E. Hastie, David J. Lowe, Andrew Mcauley, Nicholas L. Mills, Andrew J. Winter, Corri Black, Janet T. Scott, Catherine A. O’donnell, David N. Blane, Susan Browne, Tracy R. Ibbotson, Jill P. Pell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Long-COVID prevalence estimates vary widely and should take account of symptoms that would have occurred anyway. Here we determine the prevalence of symptoms attributable to SARS-CoV-2 infection, taking account of background rates and confounding, in a nationwide population cohort study of 198,096 Scottish adults. 98,666 (49.8%) had symptomatic laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections and 99,430 (50.2%) were age-, sex-, and socioeconomically-matched and never-infected. Whilst 41,775 (64.5%) reported at least one symptom 6 months following SARS-CoV-2 infection, this was also true of 34,600 (50.8%) of those never-infected. The crude prevalence of one or more symptom attributable to SARS-CoV-2 infection was 13.8% (13.2%,14.3%), 12.8% (11.9%,13.6%) and 16.3% (14.4%,18.2%) at 6, 12 and 18 months respectively. Following adjustment for potential confounders, these figures were 6.6% (6.3%, 6.9%), 6.5% (6.0%, 6.9%) and 10.4% (9.1%, 11.6%) respectively. Long-COVID is characterised by a wide range of symptoms that, apart from altered taste and smell, are non-specific. Care should be taken in attributing symptoms to previous SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2023


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