Image of clinician checking patient's lungs with stethoscope

Higher rates of long-lasting symptoms after recovery from COVID-19 have been found among older adults, females, Blacks, and persons with pre-existing conditions, according to a new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Investigators examined a random sample of recovered COVID-19 patients in Long Beach California. Fully one third of participants reported having at least one symptom of post-acute sequelae, commonly called “long COVID-19,” two months after their positive test results.

Notably, Black or African American (Black) participants, who were well-represented in the study, were at higher risk of shortness of breath and joint and muscle pain when compared with other racial/ethnic groups.

The results are generally in line with past studies, but few have previously assessed variations by race and/or ethnicity, the researchers noted. 

This is important because existing inequities may lead to “higher risk for SARS-CoV-2 exposure, lower access to care and testing, and differences in the prevalence of preexisting conditions in some racial and ethnic groups,” wrote the researchers, from the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services and the University of California, Davis.

A clear understanding of who is most at risk can help guide the allocation of public health resources and improve health equity while groups recover from the disease, they said.

This could include prioritizing preventive measures such as physical distancing, consistent mask use, vaccination, and outreach for groups at an increased risk for experiencing long-term sequelae. 

“The racial/ethnic variations observed in this study underscore the importance of continued efforts to reduce these inequities through prioritizing prevention and treatment strategies,” they concluded.

Full findings were published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.