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The other COVID-19 survivors: Timing, duration, and health impact of post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Aims and objectives

To determine the frequency, timing, and duration of post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC) and their impact on health and function.


Post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection is an emerging major public health problem that is poorly understood and has no current treatment or cure. PASC is a new syndrome that has yet to be fully clinically characterised.


Descriptive cross-sectional survey (n = 5163) was conducted from online COVID-19 survivor support groups who reported symptoms for more than 21 days following SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Participants reported background demographics and the date and method of their covid diagnosis, as well as all symptoms experienced since onset of covid in terms of the symptom start date, duration, and Likert scales measuring three symptom-specific health impacts: pain and discomfort, work impairment, and social impairment. Descriptive statistics and measures of central tendencies were computed for participant demographics and symptom data.


Participants reported experiencing a mean of 21 symptoms (range 1-93); fatigue (79.0%), headache (55.3%), shortness of breath (55.3%) and difficulty concentrating (53.6%) were the most common. Symptoms often remitted and relapsed for extended periods of time (duration M = 112 days), longest lasting symptoms included the inability to exercise (M = 106.5 days), fatigue (M = 101.7 days) and difficulty concentrating, associated with memory impairment (M = 101.1 days). Participants reported extreme pressure at the base of the head, syncope, sharp or sudden chest pain, and "brain pressure" among the most distressing and impacting daily life.


Post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection can be characterised by a wide range of symptoms, many of which cause moderate-to-severe distress and can hinder survivors' overall well-being.

Relevance to clinical practice

This study advances our understanding of the symptoms of PASC and their health impacts.

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