Friday, June 21, 2024

Alarming Experiences of Canadians with Long-term Symptoms from COVID-19

As of June 2023, the majority of Canadians had been infected by the virus-causing COVID-19. Most people recover from their symptoms and can carry on with their lives, however, for many others, symptoms persist for months, often impacting their ability to work and their quality of life overall.

Experiences of Canadians with Long-term Symptoms following COVID-19

The following are five key findings of the study regarding long-term symptoms of COVID-19:

1. Nearly one in five Canadian adults have had more than one known or suspected COVID-19 infection

The percentage of Canadian adults who ever tested positive for or suspected a COVID-19 infection (based on symptoms or recent contact with a COVID-19-infected person) increased from 38.7% in the summer of 2022 to 64.4% by June 2023. Many Canadian adults have had COVID-19 more than once. As of June 2023, 44.6% of Canadians had experienced one infection, 14.4% had experienced two, and 5.4% had experienced three or more. These numbers, however, are likely an underestimate of the true number of infections by June 2023, as individuals may not always be aware that they are or have been infected.

2. About one in nine of all Canadian adults have experienced long-term symptoms from a COVID-19 infection

By June 2023, about one in nine (11.7%) of the total adult population reported experiencing long-term symptoms, defined as the presence of symptoms three or more months after a COVID-19 infection that could not be explained by anything else. This represents 3.5 million Canadians and nearly 1 in 5 (19.0%) Canadian adults who have been infected at least once.

3. Over half (58.2%) of Canadian adults who ever had long-term symptoms continued to experience these symptoms up to June 2023

Of those who continue to experience long-term symptoms, 79.3% had been experiencing symptoms for six months or more, including 42.2% with symptoms for one year or more. In contrast, among those who reported a resolution of their long-term symptoms, almost three-quarters (73.9%) experienced them for fewer than six months, and 93.0% experienced them for less than a year.

Experiences of Canadians with Long-term Symptoms following COVID-19

4. About 7 in 10 Canadian adults with long-term symptoms experienced them on a daily or nearly daily basis

The impacts of long-term symptoms on Canadians’ daily lives vary depending on the severity and frequency of their symptoms. Among those who continued to experience symptoms in June 2023, about 7 in 10 reported experiencing them every day or almost every day when symptoms were at their worst, and about 1 in 5 (21.7%) reported being often or always limited by them in their daily activities. Overall, half (49.7%) of people with ongoing symptoms reported no improvement in their symptoms over time.

5. Two-thirds of Canadian adults who sought healthcare services for their long-term symptoms reported not receiving adequate care for any of their symptoms

Among Canadians with long-term symptoms which needed healthcare services, two-thirds (66.4%) reported not receiving adequate treatment, service, or support for any of their symptoms, one in five (21.1%) reported receiving adequate care for some of their symptoms and one in eight (12.5%) adults reported receiving treatment, services, or support for all their symptoms.

  Note to readers

The Canadian COVID-19 Antibody and Health Survey – Follow-up Questionnaire (CCAHS-FQ) was administered by Statistics Canada in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Populations excluded from the CCAHS-FQ were persons living in the three territories, persons under 18 years of age, persons living on reserves and other Indigenous settlements in the provinces, persons living in institutions, persons living on Canadian armed forces bases and residents of certain remote regions.

Survey weights were used to create a representative sample