What do we want to know?
Symptoms and effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that persist or develop after the acute phase of infection are often labelled as Long COVID. As of June 2002, approximately 3% of the UK population self-reported Long COVID. This ongoing series of reports aim to provide a high-level overview of Long COVID evidence.
Who wants to know and why?
To inform their development of a Long COVID plan, and support future policy and service delivery, the Department of Health and Social Care in England requested that we conduct regular evidence scans of the Long COVID literature. Specifically, we were asked to provide regular updates on two strands of research:
a) published and ongoing systematic reviews on Long COVID.
b) published randomised controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating treatment or rehabilitation for Long COVID.
What did we find?
Systematic reviews on Long COVID: There exists a large number of published and ongoing systematic reviews on Long COVID, particularly ones focused on the prevalence of persistent symptoms and effects. Other published reviews have focused on Long COVID treatment and rehabilitation; risk factors for Long COVID and pathobiology.
Evaluations of treatment and rehabilitation for Long COVID: Published RCTs have examined the effectiveness of a range of different interventions for the treatment and rehabilitation of people with Long COVID. This includes different forms of physical therapy and the consumption, injection, or inhalation of various substances.
What are the implications?
It is doubtful that further reviews on Long COVID symptoms and effects would add substantially to the knowledge base at this stage. Additional reviews may be useful if researchers can identify a specific and focused research question that has not been addressed by published or ongoing reviews.
How did we get these results?
Systematic reviews on Long COVID: We conducted the first scope of the review-level evidence in November 2021, which involved identifying and categorising by their main focus, published and ongoing systematic reviews on Long COVID. Since then, an updated scope of the evidence has been produced on a quarterly basis. As these updates were rapid scans of the literature, not full reviews, we restricted the searches to a small number of sources and used a limited range of search terms. We included systematic reviews with a primary focus on Long COVID. Reviews could focus on individuals of any age and include primary studies of any design or other reviews (i.e. reviews of reviews).
Evaluations of treatment and rehabilitation for Long COVID: We conducted the first scan for evidence on Long COVID treatment and rehabilitation in June 2022. We searched several sources and included research published in the previous six months. Our aim was to identify and quality assess published RCTs evaluating treatment or rehabilitation for Long COVID. Updates will be produced on a quarterly basis.