Long COVID burden and risk factors in 10 UK longitudinal studies and electronic health records

This paper combines results from longitudinal cohort studies with electronic health data from OpenSAFELY, to describe how risk of long COVID varies amongst demographic and clinical factors.

Nature Communications, 2022

Paper information

  • Ellen Thompson,
  • Dylan Williams,
  • Alex Walker,
  • Ruth Mitchell,
  • Claire Niedzwiedz,
  • Tiffany Yang,
  • Charlotte Huggins,
  • Alex Kwong,
  • Richard Silverwood,
  • Giorgio Di Gessa,
  • Ruth Bowyer,
  • Kate Northstone,
  • Bo Hou,
  • Michael Green,
  • Brian Dodgeon,
  • Katie Doores,
  • Emma Duncan,
  • Frances Williams,
  • Andrew Steptoe,
  • David Porteous,
  • Rosemary McEachan,
  • Laurie Tomlinson,
  • Ben Goldacre,
  • Praveetha Patalay,
  • George Ploubidis,
  • Srinivasa Vittal Katikireddi,
  • Kate Tilling,
  • Christopher Rentsch,
  • Nicholas Timpson,
  • Nishi Chaturvedi,
  • Claire Steves
Thompson, E.J., Williams, D.M., Walker, A.J. et al. Long COVID burden and risk factors in 10 UK longitudinal studies and electronic health records. Nat Commun 13, 3528 (2022).


The frequency of, and risk factors for, long COVID are unclear among community-based individuals with a history of COVID-19. To elucidate the burden and possible causes of long COVID in the community, we coordinated analyses of survey data from 6907 individuals with self-reported COVID-19 from 10 UK longitudinal study (LS) samples and 1.1 million individuals with COVID-19 diagnostic codes in electronic healthcare records (EHR) collected by spring 2021. Proportions of presumed COVID-19 cases in LS reporting any symptoms for 12+ weeks ranged from 7.8% and 17% (with 1.2 to 4.8% reporting debilitating symptoms). Increasing age, female sex, white ethnicity, poor pre-pandemic general and mental health, overweight/obesity, and asthma were associated with prolonged symptoms in both LS and EHR data, but findings for other factors, such as cardio-metabolic parameters, were inconclusive.