Females far likelier to suffer with Long COVID, a new review of studies shows, underscoring a critical need for sex-disaggregated research: The odds of females developing Long COVID syndrome is 22% higher than males, researchers find

A new study published today in the peer-reviewed journal Current Medical Research and Opinion, reveals that females are “significantly” more likely to suffer from Long COVID than males and will experience substantially different symptoms.

Long COVID is a syndrome in which complications persist more than four weeks after the initial infection of COVID-19, sometimes for many months.

Researchers from the Johnson & Johnson Office of the Chief Medical Officer Health of Women Team, who carried out the analysis of data from around 1.3 million patients, observed females with Long COVID are presenting with a variety of symptoms including ear, nose, and throat issues; mood, neurological, skin, gastrointestinal and rheumatological disorders; as well as fatigue.

Male patients, however, were more likely to experience endocrine disorders such as diabetes and kidney disorders.

“Knowledge about fundamental sex differences underpinning the clinical manifestations, disease progression, and health outcomes of COVID-19 is crucial for the identification and rational design of effective therapies and public health interventions that are inclusive of and sensitive to the potential differential treatment needs of both sexes,” the authors explain.

“Differences in immune system function between females and males could be an important driver of sex differences in Long COVID syndrome. Females mount more rapid and robust innate and adaptive immune responses, which can protect them from initial infection and severity. However, this same difference can render females more vulnerable to prolonged autoimmune-related diseases.”

As part of the review, researchers restricted their search of academic papers to those published between December 2019-August 2020 for COVID-19 and to January 2020-June 2021 for Long COVID syndrome. The total sample size spanning articles reviewed amounted to 1,393,355 unique individuals.

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