Prevalence of long COVID symptoms in Haryana, India: A cross-sectional follow-up study

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Background: Emerging research indicates growing concern over long COVID globally, although there have been limited studies that estimate population burden. We aimed to estimate the burden of long COVID in three districts of Haryana, India, using an opportunity to link a seroprevalence study to follow-up survey of symptoms associated with long COVID. Methods: We used a population-based seroprevalence survey for COVID-19 conducted in September 2021 across Haryana, India. Adults from three purposively selected districts (Rohtak, Gurugram, and Jhajjar) were eligible to participate; 2205 of 3213 consented to participate in a survey on health status. Trained investigators administered a structured questionnaire that included demographic characteristics, self-reported symptoms of illness in the last six months before the survey, mental health, and history of COVID-19. Findings: Unadjusted regression estimates indicated positive correlations between symptomatic complaints and COVID-19 exposure, suggesting lingering effects of COVID-19 in this population. The overall physical morbidity index was higher among those who tested positive for COVID-19, as was the incidence of new cases. However, both morbidity and incidence became statistically insignificant after adjustment for multiple comparisons. Cough emerged as the only statistically significant individual persistent symptom. Sex-stratified analyses indicated significant estimates only for physical morbidity in women. Interpretation: This study is one of the first from India that uses a large population-based sample to examine longer term repercussions of COVID infections. The burden of long COVID should primarily be addressed in clinical settings, where specialised treatment for individual cases continues to evolve. Our analyses also provide insight into the size and nature of studies required to assess the population-level burden of long COVID. Funding: This paper was produced under the auspices of the Lancet COVID 19 Commission India Task Force, which was supported financially by the Reliance Foundation. The Lancet COVID 19 Commission was set up in July 2020 and submitted its final report by October 2022. This report by the India Task Force was prepared during the same period.