Predictors of chronic COVID-19 symptoms in a community-based cohort of adults

Jonathan I. Silverberg, Israel Zyskind, Hiam Naiditch, Jason Zimmerman, Aaron E. Glatt, Abraham Pinter, Elitza S. Theel, Michael J. Joyner, D. Ashley Hill, Miriam R. Lieberman, Elliot Bigajer, Daniel Stok, Elliot Frank, Avi Z. Rosenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background COVID-19 can cause some individuals to experience chronic symptoms. Rates and predictors of chronic COVID-19 symptoms are not fully elucidated. Objective To examine occurrence and patterns of post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV2 infection (PASC) symptomatology and their relationship with demographics, acute COVID-19 symptoms and anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibody responses. Methods A multi-stage observational study was performed of adults (≥18 years) from 5 US states. Participants completed two rounds of electronic surveys (May-July 2020; April-May 2021) and underwent testing to anti-SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein IgG antibody testing. Latent Class Analysis was used to identify clusters of chronic COVID-19 symptoms. Results Overall, 390 adults (median [25%ile, 75%ile] age: 42 [31, 54] years) with positive SARS-CoV-2 antibodies completed the follow-up survey; 92 (24.7%) had ≥1 chronic COVID-19 symptom, with 11-month median duration of persistent symptoms (range: 1–12 months). The most common chronic COVID-19 symptoms were fatigue (11.3%), change in smell (9.5%) or taste (5.6%), muscle or joint aches (5.4%) and weakness (4.6%). There were significantly higher proportions of ≥1 persistent COVID-19 symptom (31.5% vs. 18.6%; Chi-square, P = 0.004), and particularly fatigue (15.8% vs. 7.3%, P = 0.008) and headaches (5.4% vs. 1.0%, P = 0.011) in females compared to males. Chronic COVID-19 symptoms were also increased in individuals with ≥6 acute COVID-19 symptoms, Latent class analysis revealed 4 classes of symptoms. Latent class-1 (change of smell and taste) was associated with lower anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels; class-2 and 3 (multiple chronic symptoms) were associated with higher anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels and more severe acute COVID-19 infection. Limitations Ambulatory cohort with less severe acute disease. Conclusion Individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection commonly experience chronic symptoms, most commonly fatigue, changes in smell or taste and muscle/joint aches. Female sex, severity of acute COVID-19 infection, and higher anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG levels were associated with the highest risk of having chronic COVID-19 symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0271310
JournalPloS one
Issue number8 August
StatePublished - Aug 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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