People view thousands of white flags representing Americans who have died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) placed on more than 20 acres of the National Mall in Washington, U.S., on September 26, 2021.
Joshua Roberts | Reuters
Long Covid has contributed to the deaths of more than 3,500 people since the pandemic began, according to a report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This is the first official US estimate of how many people have died from the mysterious array of conditions that strike people months after their initial Covid infection. Long Covid played a role in less than 1% of the more than 1 million Covid-19 deaths recorded from January 2020 to June 2022, according to the National Center for Health Statistics report CDC.
CDC analysts examined death certificates from January 2020 through June 2022 that listed Covid as a contributing or underlying cause of death. The analysts then took a closer look at these death certificates to identify language that indicated that Covid played a significant role in the death.
The United States had not implemented an official diagnostic code for Covid for a long time at the time of the study. As a result, analysts chose common terms for the disease, including “chronic Covid”, “long Covid”, “long-haul Covid”, “long-haul Covid” and “post-Covid”, among others .
The authors said the report may underestimate the true number of long-term Covid deaths because clinical guidance on how to identify and report the disease has changed over time. This means the study may have missed other key terms used on death certificates that indicate Covid has played a role for a long time.
According to the report, long-term deaths from Covid reached 3.8% of all Covid fatalities in April 2022. Seniors aged 75 and over accounted for about 57% of the 2,490 deaths Covid length with detailed demographic information.
The death rate for long-term Covid was highest among American Indians and Alaska Natives, at 14.8 per 100,000. Overall, the majority of people who died of long-term Covid, 78.5%, were white, according to the report. Ten percent were black and 7.8% were Hispanic.
Scientists still don’t fully understand what causes prolonged Covid, and public health experts are still trying to figure out exactly how many people are affected in the U.S. There is still no official medical definition of prolonged Covid in the U.S., although it is generally refers to a diverse range of symptoms that can persist for months after infection.
Long-term Covid can vary widely, from mild to debilitating symptoms that affect multiple organ systems and prevent people from returning to work.