Navigation and service

Use of cookies

By clicking on "Allow" you consent to the anonymous recording of your stay on the site. The evaluations do not contain any personal data and are used exclusively for the analysis, maintenance and improvement of our website. For further information on data privacy, please click on the following link: Data Privacy Policy


RKI Information Portal on long COVID

Piktogramme zum Thema medizinische Forschung, z.B. Mikroskop, Reagenzgläser, Thermometer, Stethoskop. Quelle: natali_mis - stock.adobe.comSource: natali_mis -

What is long COVID?

‘Long COVID’ refers to longer-term health impairments following a SARS-CoV-2 infection that are present beyond the acute phase of the sickness phase of four weeks (see S1 Guideline Long/ Post-COVID). The symptoms either begin during the acute phase of the disease and persist for a longer period of time, appear or recur in the course of weeks and months after the infection. The term ‘post-COVID condition’ or ‘post-COVID syndrome’ (see preliminary WHO case definition) is used when symptoms are either still present at least 12 weeks and longer after the acute infection or appear anew after this period and cannot be explained otherwise. In the following, the term ‘long COVID’ is used to refer to long-term health consequences of a SARS-CoV-2 infection, as this covers the entire period beyond the acute phase of the disease. For health complaints that explicitly persist for more than 12 weeks, the term ‘post-COVID-19 condition’ will be used.

People with long COVID report a great variety of physical and psychological symptoms. These can occur individually or in combination and can vary considerably in duration. Therefore, no uniform clinical picture can be defined so far. In addition, the underlying mechanisms have not yet been clarified, which complicates the diagnosis and treatment of long-term health consequences. Accordingly, a comprehensive collection of reliable epidemiological data is essential to map the extent of the problem and to ensure necessary adjustments for adequate care of people with long COVID.

Activities at the RKI on long COVID

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the RKI has been conducting interdepartmental studies to monitor the spread of infection and the health status of the population. These include the antibody studies ‘Corona-Monitoring-Local’ (CoMoLo) and ‘Corona-Monitoring-Nationwide’ (CoMoBu), the survey 'German Health Interview Survey for Children and Adolescents' (KIDA), the COALA module of the Corona day-care centre study. From the middle of 2021, questions about long COVID were also introduced into the studies. This will enable comparisons of people with and without SARS-CoV-2 infection in terms of symptoms, quality of life, use of medical care and health-related restrictions in everyday life. The analysis of symptoms possibly related to long COVID was also included in the COViK-Study, a hospital-based case-controlled Study regarding the effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

In addition, the RKI continuously compiles the scientific evidence on long COVID and makes it available to the public, e.g., in the form of FAQ (currently available in German only). More comprehensive, systematic evidence syntheses are also carried out in cooperation with external partners.

Since the end of 2021, the Federal Ministry of Health-funded project ‘Post-acute health consequences of COVID-19 - Post-COVID-19’ has bundled the interdepartmental activities on long COVID at the RKI and facilitates the continuation of research projects in the field of public health, the expansion of scientific communication, and the establishment of scientific networks between the RKI and other partners at national and international level.

Further information:

S1 Guideline Long/Post-COVID (in German)

Standardised basic care for children and adolescents with long COVID (German Society of Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine DGKJ) (in German)

First results of the COVIDOM study on long-term consequences of COVID-19 (German National Pandemic Cohort Network - NAPKON/NAPKON-POP) 15.7.2022

Project: Post-acute health consequences of COVID-19

Tablet mit Diagrammen, Symbolbild. Quelle: © Saklakova - stock.adobe.comThe Project “Post-acute health consequences of COVID-19” carries out systematic and continuous synthesis and publishes scientific evidence regarding possible long-term health consequences of a COVID-19 infection.


Symptoms and long-term consequences of long COVID - A systematic evidence synthesis

Evidenzanalyse zu Long COVID. Quelle: Robert Koch-InstitutThe RKI works continuously on the compilation of scientific evidence related to long COVID. The resulting insights provide information for researchers and medical practitioners and support the identification of research gaps.


Expanded Possibilities for Literature Searches about Long COVID

Computertastatur. Quelle: © AliFuat - stock.adobe.comTogether with ZB MED and PubPharm, the RKI has developed dedicated search tools for preprints and therapeutic associations.


Date: 18.12.2023