Women account for almost two-thirds of long Covid cases, according to a new study

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  • Differences in immune responses could explain the gender gap, say researchers.

    What do we know about long Covid, the condition that affects one in ten people after being infected with the Covid-19 virus? Well, there’s still a lot for medical professionals, academics and society to figure out and understand about it.

    Long Covid – when symptoms of Covid-19 such as breathlessness, exhaustion and headaches persist after a person has recovered from the infection – has been described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “devastating” the lives of millions across the world.

    Bolstering previous research that suggested women were more likely than men to suffer from long Covid, a new study has shown that women account for almost two-thirds of cases.

    The report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that women made up 63% of those living with long Covid. The findings were modelled by researchers after examining 1.2 million people from 22 countries who reported having had symptomatic Covid in 2020 and 2021.

    But why are women more likely to suffer from long Covid? Well, there’s no definitive answer to that question yet. In their write-up of today’s news, The Independent pointed to previous research (published in the American Journal of Managed Care) that suggests different immune responses might explain the gender gap.

    The Independent also highlighted the fact that previous studies have found that women, younger people, and individuals from Black, mixed-race or other ethnic groups are at higher risk of getting long Covid.

    Speaking to The Guardian, the WHO director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed that urgent action is needed to tackle long Covid. He said:

    “While the pandemic has changed dramatically due to the introduction of many lifesaving tools, and there is light at the end of the tunnel, the impact of long Covid for all countries is very serious and needs immediate and sustained action equivalent to its scale.”

    He has not only called for research and access to care for those affected to be “ramped up”, but has also warned of the “very serious” crisis it presents for countries across the world.

    With 1.2 million people finding that their day-to-day activities are adversely affected by long Covid symptoms (according to the Office for National Statistics) it’s crucial that the research continues.

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