Who’s at risk for long COVID? Huge survey of 100,000 people contains new clues

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Results from a new survey of more than 100,000 COVID-19 survivors released Tuesday by the personal genetics company 23andMe offer further evidence of a biological cause for the persistent, sometimes debilitating syndrome known as long COVID.

Although 23andMe is best known for analyzing customers’ DNA samples, the new study did not look at DNA. Rather, it collected thousands of survey responses from among the company genetic testing customers that shine light on who is most at risk for post-COVID problems. The results underscore what earlier, smaller studies have found, researchers said, and even contain new clues about what may be causing the confounding symptoms, which range from body aches to brain fog to chronic fatigue.

Women were at least twice as likely as men to report being diagnosed with long COVID, as were those who had previously experienced depression or anxiety, according to the South San Francisco firm.

People with autoimmune diseases – which can include multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases where the immune system mistakenly turns on a healthy body – reported being diagnosed with long COVID more than twice as often as those without autoimmune problems, the survey found. People with heart problems, diabetes and other cardiometabolic diseases showed nearly double the risk.