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Defining Long COVID: Highlights from the National Academy of Sciences Consensus Report


In part the National Academies describe long COVID as "a chronic, systemic disease state with profound consequences." The report provides a working definition.

"A chronic, systemic disease state with profound consequences"

The phrase above serves as a subtitle to a consensus report published recently by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) that aims to offer a common definition of long COVID. The absence of a mutually understood definition of long COVID is the source of national and international confusion among people with the condition, the health care professionals who treat them, and the scientists and researchers who continue to study and characterize the myriad presentations.

“Inconsistent disease terminology and meaning can confound clinicians, limit the generalizability of research findings, and inhibit patients from obtaining the recognition, care, and support they need,” Harvey V Fineberg, chair of NASEM’s Committee on Examining the Working Definition for Long COVID, said in the report’s preface.

NASEM convened a committee of technical experts across disciplines and "members whose lived experience as patients could inform the process of developing a definition." The slide show above provides highlights of the full consensus report as summarized by NASEM, including the agreed-upon definition, the single or multiple symptoms, and single or multiple diagnosable conditions. NASEM provides 7 important features of long COVID that reflect its unpredictable course and that all who have, have had, or who treat or study the disorder should bear in mind.

Source: A Long COVID definition: A chronic, systemic disease state with profound consequences. National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Copyright 2024. National Academy of Sciences.

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