The Ongoing Risk Of Long COVID

What are the rates of long-term COVID-19 symptoms in 2023 and beyond?

Gideon M-K; Health Nerd


Most stock photos for “Long COVID” are just people in masks, which I suppose is apt. Photo by Adrian Balasoiu on Unsplash

It’s 2023, and the individual risk from COVID-19 has never been lower. We’ve developed new treatments, brilliant vaccines, and have very strong immunity to the disease built up over the years since it first emerged. While COVID-19 is undoubtedly a public health issue — it probably always will be — the risks of bad things like hospitalization and death are to the individual the lowest that they’ve ever been.

That’s not to say COVID-19 has gone away. COVID-19, as with influenza, tuberculosis, measles, and most other public health threats, is still a serious problem. The current yearly death rate is at least double that of a bad influenza year, which is likely because while COVID-19 is similarly lethal to the flu in 2023 with vaccines, hybrid immunity, and improved treatments, it is still far more infectious. However, in general, it’s fair to say that COVID-19 has moved from a public health emergency to a public health problem.

But there’s still a really important issue that people raise whenever you discuss the long-term view of COVID-19 — what about Long COVID? We know that many people suffer issues after their acute infections, and there are still people having life-shattering problems even years after their brush with the coronavirus. People online have been arguing for some time that Long COVID represents an ongoing public health crisis that will eventually impact everyone in the world.

This sounds scary, but also seems quite unlikely. Long COVID is undoubtedly a serious problem, but the magnitude of the issue is, if anything, diminishing over time. Let’s look at what the evidence says about of Long COVID now, in 2023.

Prevalence vs Incidence

For this discussion, there are two important epidemiological terms you’ll have to understand. Simple stuff, but useful.

Pictured: Simple but useful, just like epidemiology. Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

The first term is incidence. The incidence of a disease is the rate of new cases of that disease within the set period of time.