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Long COVID is possibly more prevalent than what might be recorded in electronic health record (EHR) diagnostic or referral codes, according to a descriptive study in eClinicalMedicine. Researchers analyzed clinical data from more than 19 million adults in England from November 2020 to January 2023. A total of 55,465 patients were identified with long COVID, based on 20,025 diagnostic codes and 35,440 referral codes. Median follow-up was 2.2 years, and the rate of long COVID per 100,000 person-years was found to be 177.5 in women and 100.5 in men. The majority of those with a long COVID record did not have a recorded positive SARS-COV-2 test prior to long COVID being documented. Researchers concluded the true prevalence of long COVID is 10 times higher than what is indicated in EHRs, when compared to estimates from the nation’s office of statistics. They suggest that harmonization of long COVID descriptions is needed to advance further study.

Who gets long COVID? In the EHR, crude rates of long COVID were lowest in patients who had at least 3 vaccine doses and highest for women, those aged 40-60 years, White patients, and those with underlying medical conditions.

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EHRs Haven’t Captured Prevalence of Long COVID