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Sharing our progress toward recovery

Research Summaries

Discover what the latest science from the RECOVER Initiative means for our ability to understand, treat, and prevent Long COVID.

This page contains descriptions of findings from RECOVER research studies. These descriptions use plain language and a format that is easy to understand.

If you want to learn more about the scientific discoveries described here, you can also browse and search the complete list of RECOVER Publications.

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18 Results

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Researchers wanted to see if patients who had difficulty breathing while sleeping (Obstructive Sleep Apnea; OSA) were at higher risk for developing Long COVID compared to people without OSA. By comparing the electronic health record (EHR) data of COVID positive patients, researchers looked at the risk of developing Long COVID in patients with and without a previous diagnosis of OSA.

Researchers found that adults with a previous diagnosis of OSA had an increased chance of developing Long COVID when compared to patients that did not have a previous diagnosis of OSA.

Research Summary
Observational Cohorts Adult

Thaweethai, T; Jolley, SE; Karlson, EW; et. al.RECOVER Consortium, JAMA

RECOVER researchers used data from the RECOVER observational cohort study in adults ages 18 and over. They compared symptoms reported in surveys by participants who did and did not have COVID.  

Researchers found 37 symptoms that participants who had COVID reported more often after having COVID compared to participants who never had COVID. 12 of these symptoms could identify participants with Long COVID, including feeling tired and unwell after activity, feeling weak and tired (fatigue), and brain fog. A definition of Long COVID based on symptoms is important for future research, including to find treatments. 

To find another way to know if children had COVID, researchers compared health records of 2 groups of children: children who only had a positive antibody test and children who had a positive PCR test. A positive antibody test means a child had COVID in the past, had the COVID vaccine, or both. A positive PCR test means a child currently has COVID. Researchers used data from children’s hospitals in the National Pediatric Learning Health System (PEDSnet) network.

Antibody tests found 2,714 children who had COVID and didn’t have a positive PCR test or  COVID vaccine. If researchers used only PCR tests, they wouldn’t have known these children had COVID. Knowing if children had COVID is the first step to know their risk of Long COVID and if symptoms could be related to Long COVID.

Short Summary
EHR Pediatric

Jhaveri, R; Webb, R; Razzaghi, H; et. al., Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society

RECOVER researchers explored Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a Long COVID symptom where there is inflammation (swelling) of multiple organ systems. Researchers looked to see if MIS-C can be identified and managed in the home (outpatient) instead of in the hospital (inpatient). 

An organ system is a collection of organs in your body dedicated to maintaining necessary functions. For example, your heart, arteries, and veins make up the Cardiovascular System--the system responsible for maintaining blood flow and delivering oxygen throughout the body.

Researchers were able to identify that in some patients, their MIS-C symptoms were mild enough to be treated at home and not require hospitalization. These results raise awareness that MIS-C can present in milder forms with the option to treat it at home if directed by a physician.

RECOVER researchers analyzed electronic health records (EHR) in order to define Long COVID. Researchers found up to 25 different symptoms that patients who had COVID were more likely to have than those who didn’t have COVID. The symptoms were related to many different organs, such as memory loss, hair loss, and feeling tired. They found that certain types of Long COVID symptoms were more likely to happen in patients who were older, had more severe COVID, or had more health problems before they had COVID.  

This research is important because the findings show that Long COVID affects many organs, and types of Long COVID symptoms differ between certain groups of patients. However, EHR findings are limited in that they can only look at data from the patients' past. In order to confirm these findings, future studies that follow patients' symptoms over time, into the future, are needed. 

RECOVER researchers wanted to find environmental risk factors of Long COVID by comparing the environment of people who had Long COVID to people who didn’t have Long COVID. Environmental risk factors are things about where a person lives that raise their chance of having a health condition, such as air pollution and poor housing conditions. The researchers looked at data from electronic health records (EHRs) of more than 100,000 people in the New York City area and Florida.  

The researchers found that people who lived in areas with higher levels of air pollution, more poverty, and less access to healthy food had a higher chance of getting Long COVID. People in the New York City area had different environmental risk factors than people in Florida. 

RECOVER researchers wanted to learn more about racial and ethnic differences in Long COVID. Researchers used patients’ electronic health records (EHRs) to compare people who had COVID based on their race or ethnicity, whether they were hospitalized due to COVID, and whether they had any health problems related to Long COVID. They looked at data from over 60,000 adults from 5 healthcare systems.

The researchers found that Black and Hispanic adults were more likely to have symptoms of Long COVID compared to White adults – this was true for adults who were and were not hospitalized. The reason for these differences is unclear.

RECOVER researchers wanted to identify conditions and symptoms associated with Long COVID in children (also known as pediatric Long COVID). The researchers analyzed electronic health record (EHR) data to detect conditions and symptoms associated with pediatric Long COVID. The study identified multiple conditions and body systems associated with pediatric Long COVID related to many different organs, such as heart and lung problems. 

This research is important because these findings use a data-driven approach to detect several new or under-reported conditions and symptoms that should be studied further. Researchers believe that further study may reveal the biological processes that cause these Long COVID symptoms and conditions.

Short Summary
Review Adult

Sherif, ZA; Gomez, CR; Connors, TJ; et. al., eLife

RECOVER researchers conducted a detailed review of published papers that try to explain how the COVID-19 virus causes the symptoms and conditions associated with Long COVID. Researchers compared how Long COVID is similar to other long-standing viral conditions (such as Epstein Barr virus, commonly known as Mono) to see if there is a common method used by COVID-19 and these other viral conditions to cause the associated symptoms and conditions.

RECOVER researchers believe that there is no one common method by which the COVID-19 virus causes the symptoms and conditions associated with Long COVID. Because there was no observed common method causing these Long COVID symptoms, researchers recommend that treatments are customized to each individual patient's specific symptoms and conditions.

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