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Policy & Global Development

What Is Long COVID and What Can We Do to Address the Problem?

Series | COVID-19 & response strategy #36


[This document is a one of a series of discussion notes addressing fundamental questions about the COVID-19 crisis and response strategies. These documents are based on the best scientific information available and may be updated as new information comes to light.]

The document is based on the Post-Acute COVID Syndrome (PACS): Definition, Impact and Management (GCMSC) report, of the Multidisciplinary Collaborative Group for the Scientific Monitoring of COVID-19, a joint initiative of ISGlobal and the Barcelona Medical Council (COMB), in collaboration with the Catalan Association of Research Centres (ACER).


A number of studies suggest that between 10% and 15% of all patients who develop COVID-19 present persistent symptoms weeks or even months after the original infection. This would represent a considerable burden of disease, amounting to an estimated 400,000 people affected in Spain and 22 million people worldwide.

Persistent COVID symptoms can have a serious impact on the patients’ ability to return to work, with significant psychological, social and economic consequences for them, their families and society as a whole.

In light of this, it is now vital to clearly define the problem, understand it and develop appropriate strategies to deal with this additional disease burden attributable to COVID-19 and to minimise its impact. The health authorities should take the necessary steps to develop a comprehensive approach to this problem, taking into account everything from diagnosis to treatment as well as occupational issues.