National Academies propose new long COVID definition

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has proposed a more precise definition of long COVID-19.

In its latest report, the group said long COVID needs to be understood as "an infection-associated chronic condition that occurs after COVID-19 infection and is present for at least three months as a continuous, relapsing and remitting, or progressive disease state that affects one or more organ systems." 

This comes after the National Academies published research detailing more than 200 symptoms related to long COVID. 

"Our committee hopes this single definition, crafted with input from across research and patient communities, will help to educate the public about this widespread and highly consequential disease state," Harvey Fineberg, MD, PhD, chair of the report's authoring committee and president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, said in a June 11 news release.

The new definition also says long COVID:

  • Can involve any organ system and present with a range of symptoms.

  • Can come after asymptomatic, mild, or severe SARS-CoV-2 infections.

  • Can affect children and adults.

  • Can be clinically diagnosed even without a biomarker.

  • Can exacerbate preexisting conditions or present new ones.

  • Can be delayed in onset for weeks or months following acute infection.

  • Can resolve over a period of months or take years to resolve fully.

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