More than 50 long-term effects of COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis

The study titled “More than 50 long-term effects of COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis” conducted by Sandra Lopez-Leon and colleagues provides comprehensive insights into the long-term effects of COVID-19.

Here is a detailed summary:

Background and Methodology:

  • The study aimed to identify and analyze the long-term effects of COVID-19. It used a systematic review and meta-analysis approach.
  • Databases LitCOVID and Embase were searched for articles published before January 1, 2021, with at least 100 patients included.
  • The meta-analysis included data from 47,910 patients aged 17–87 years across 15 studies, assessing 55 long-term COVID-19 effects​​​​.

Key Findings:

  • The study revealed that 80% of individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 developed one or more long-term symptoms.
  • The five most common long-term effects identified were fatigue (58%), headache (44%), attention disorder (27%), hair loss (25%), and dyspnea (24%)​​​​.
  • The review and analysis highlighted a wide range of symptoms, signs, and laboratory parameters associated with long COVID-19, including fatigue, anosmia, lung dysfunction, abnormal chest X-ray/CT, and neurological disorders​​.

Discussion and Implications:

  • The study underlines the extensive and varied long-term impacts of COVID-19 on individuals, indicating that most symptoms were similar to those experienced during the acute phase of the infection.
  • Given the predefined nature of surveys in the analyzed studies, there might be other unreported long-term effects of COVID-19​​.

Limitations and Future Directions:

  • The study faced limitations such as small sample sizes for some outcomes, heterogeneous study designs, and self-reported questionnaires potentially leading to reporting bias.
  • The diversity in follow-up times, patient severity, and symptoms pre-definition were challenges in understanding the long-term effects comprehensively.
  • The researchers emphasized the need for more standardized and stratified studies to understand the long-term effects of COVID-19 better. They called for prospective cohort studies with well-defined baseline characteristics and standardized biological measures​​.


  • The study concludes that more interdisciplinary research is vital for understanding the causes, mechanisms, and risks of long COVID-19.
  • Physicians need to be aware of the range of symptoms, signs, and biomarkers in post-COVID patients to manage and mitigate the risk of chronic effects effectively.
  • The management of long COVID-19 requires a holistic approach, incorporating multiple specialties in post-COVID clinics, with interventions such as graded exercise, physical therapy, medical evaluations, and cognitive behavioral therapy when necessary​​.

This comprehensive study sheds light on the broad spectrum of long-term effects of COVID-19 and underscores the need for multidisciplinary approaches to manage and understand these prolonged impacts.

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