Researchers develop a scoring system to identify long Covid; ongoing study at 85 sites needs more rural participants

Researchers have developed a method to determine whether someone is suffering from long Covid-19, defined as “post-acute sequelae Covid.” Sequelae are conditions resulting from earlier disease or injury.

“This symptom-based PASC definition represents a first step for identifying PASC cases and serves as a launching point for further investigations,” the reserachers report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Future analyses must consider the relationships among age, sex, race and ethnicity, social determinants of health, vaccination status after index date, co-morbidities, and pregnancy status during infection.”

“Researchers identified symptoms that are the most distinctive to long Covid, including: fatigue, especially after exercise; brain fog; dizziness; gastrointestinal symptoms; heart palpitations; issues with sexual desire or capacity; loss of smell or taste; thirst; chronic cough; chest pain; and abnormal movements,” reports Karen Weintraub of USA Today. “Each self-reported symptom is given a score and someone with a score of 12 or more ‘is a person who very likely has long Covid,’ said Dr. Leora Horwitz, who helped lead the research from the New York University Grossman School of Medicine. “It doesn’t mean these symptoms are the most common, or the most severe, or the most burdensome, or the most important to people. It just means that these are the ones that help us identify people who have long-term consequences.”

The researchers studied 9,764 adults at 85 hospitals, health centers, and community organizations in 33 states. “More than 20% of people who’ve had Covid score high enough six months after their infection to meet this working definition of long COVID, although one-third of them no longer meet the criteria at nine months,” Weinraub reports.
The National Institutes of Health funded the research, which is continuing. “The study is still looking for participants who are Hispanic or who live in rural areas,” Weintraub notes.
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