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BackgroundMost studies of long COVID (symptoms of COVID-19 infection beyond 4 weeks) have focused on people hospitalized in their initial illness. Long COVID is thought to be underrecorded in UK primary care electronic records.ObjectiveWe sought to determine which symptoms people present to primary care after COVID-19 infection and whether presentation differs in people who were not hospitalized, as well as post-long COVID mortality rates.MethodsWe used routine data from the nationally representative primary care sentinel cohort of the Oxford-Royal College of General Practitioners Research and Surveillance Centre (N=7,396,702), applying a predefined long COVID phenotype and grouped by whether the index infection occurred in hospital or in the community. We included COVID-19 infection cases from March 1, 2020, to April 1, 2021. We conducted a before-and-after analysis of long COVID symptoms prespecified by the Office of National Statistics, comparing symptoms presented between 1 and 6 months after the index infection matched with the same months 1 year previously. We conducted logistic regression analysis, quoting odds ratios (ORs) with 95% CIs.ResultsIn total, 5.63% (416,505/7,396,702) and 1.83% (7623/416,505) of the patients had received a coded diagnosis of COVID-19 infection and diagnosis of, or referral for, long COVID, respectively. People with diagnosis or referral of long COVID had higher odds of presenting the prespecified symptoms after versus before COVID-19 infection (OR 2.66, 95% CI 2.46-2.88, for those with index community infection and OR 2.42, 95% CI 2.03-2.89, for those hospitalized). After an index community infection, patients were more likely to present with nonspecific symptoms (OR 3.44, 95% CI 3.00-3.95; PConclusionsThe low percentage of people recorded as having long COVID after COVID-19 infection reflects either low prevalence or underrecording. The characteristics and comorbidities of those presenting with long COVID after a community infection are different from those hospitalized. This study provides insights into the presentation of long COVID in primary care and implications for workload.

Original publication

DOI

10.2196/37668

Type

Journal article

Journal

JMIR public health and surveillance

Publication Date

16/08/2022

Volume

8

Addresses

Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Keywords

Humans, Cross Infection, Female, Male, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, Whites