More Than 3,500 Americans Have Died from Long COVID-Related Illness in the First 30 Months of the Pandemic
For Immediate Release: December 14, 2022
Contact: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics, Office of Communication (301) 458-4800
Death certificate analysis shows that long COVID played a part in 3,544 deaths in the United States from January 2020 through the end of June 2022. Long COVID deaths represented less than 1% of the 1,021,487 deaths for which COVID-19 was the underlying or contributing cause of death in that period. These findings are included in a new report from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
The report “Identification of Deaths with Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19 Identified from Death Certificate Literal Text: United States, January 1, 2020-June 30, 2022” describes and quantifies COVID-19 deaths involving long COVID. Cause of death text entered on death certificates in the National Vital Statistics System were analyzed to identify these deaths.
People with prior history of severe COVID-19 illness are at increased risk of post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC) and death. PASC, commonly called “long COVID”, refers to long-term symptoms experienced after a person has recovered from acute infection with SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Subject matter expert consultation, as well as CDC’s clinical guidance for PASC, informed the list of key terms used to categorize long COVID deaths. The terms chosen for inclusion in the analysis indicated long-term symptoms or effects of prior infection, such as exacerbation of existing conditions due to COVID-19 infection. Only terms that communicated that a post-COVID condition caused or contributed to the death were included.
Other findings documented in the report:
- The highest number of deaths with long COVID occurred in February 2022.
- The percentage of all COVID-19 deaths that involved long COVID peaked in June 2021 (1.2%) and in April 2022 (3.8%). Both peaks coincide with periods of declining numbers of COVID-19 deaths.
- Men accounted for a slightly larger percentage of long COVID deaths (51.5%) than women (48.5%).
- S. adults 75-84 years old accounted for the highest percentage of long COVID deaths (28.8%), followed by adults 85 years and older (28.1%) and adults 65-74 years old (21.5%).
- The majority of long COVID deaths occurred among non-Hispanic White people (78.5%).
- Non-Hispanic Black people accounted for the next highest percentage of long COVID deaths (10.1%), followed by Hispanic people (7.8%).
- The death rate for long COVID was highest among non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaska Native people (14.8 per 100,000) and lowest among non-Hispanic Asian people (1.5 per 100,000).
The report will be available on the NCHS web site at www.cdc.gov/nchs.