More than 15,000 people are taking part in the LongCOVID study conducted by RIVM. The participants include 4,484 adults and 113 children who indicated at the start of the study that they already had long-term symptoms after an infection with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
Participants with existing long-term symptoms after COVID-19 (Long COVID) reported higher healthcare utilisation. Two out of three people sought medical assistance, primarily from their GP, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist or a pulmonologist. Of the participating children aged 17 years and under who had long-term health problems after COVID-19, 44% consulted a healthcare provider, such as a GP, physiotherapist or paediatrician.
Less productive due to Long COVID
When completing the initial questionnaire, 7 out of 10 adults said that they were unable to work at all (29%) or had to work less (40%) due to long-term health problems after COVID-19. The impact on children was also significant. More than half of the children who had long-term health problems after COVID-19 were unable to attend school at all (8%) or had reduced attendance (43%).
Most common symptoms
The participants in the LongCOVID study reported a wide range of symptoms in the initial questionnaire. The symptoms reported most frequently among the participants who reported long-term symptoms at the start of the study were tiredness (86%), concentration problems (67%), shortness of breath (66%), difficulty handling busy surroundings (60%) and headache (54%). The most common symptoms among children were tiredness (69%), headache (48%), concentration problems (32%), malaise (32%) and coughing (27%). In addition, boys reported muscle aches slightly more often than girls. Girls indicated more often that they had difficulty handling busy surroundings.
Many of the participants (adults and children) with long-term symptoms indicated in the initial questionnaire that ordinary daily activities were still difficult and required a lot of effort, even months after infection with the virus.
About the LongCOVID study
The study was launched in April 2021. RIVM is asking people in the Netherlands who test positive for COVID-19 to sign up via LongCOVID.rivm.nl within 7 days after their positive test result. People who do not have a recent positive test result can also take part. Over the course of an extended time period, the study aims to research how many people continue to have long-term health problems after an infection with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The researchers will also investigate what those health problems are and how long the symptoms persist. RIVM is investigating whether it is possible to predict which people will have persistent symptoms, and which people will not. By doing so, RIVM aims to determine the long-term health impact of a coronavirus infection.
Seven months into the study, these first results give an impression of health problems among people who indicated at the start that they had long-term symptoms. During the course of the study, more and more information is becoming available from people who signed up for the study in the first seven days after a positive or negative COVID-19 test, and who therefore did not have any long-term symptoms yet.
Participants are monitored over an extended time period
It is important for participants to complete a questionnaire regularly over the course of a year. This shows the progress of Long COVID over time and what influence it has over an extended time period. The knowledge gained from this can be used in the future to provide better assistance to Long COVID patients. More information about the LongCOVID study or about participating in the study can be found on the website of the LongCOVID study (in Dutch).