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Defining long COVID in adults and children

Two new NIHR-funded pieces of research have developed definitions of long COVID in adults and children, which will improve research on the condition and could help clinical practice.

In both cases the researchers have worked with patients and carers and used a democratic technique called Delphi consensus to arrive at their definitions.

Two new Delphi consensus studies on long COVID were discussed at an SMC briefing:

  1. A consensus of a long COVID definition in children (Accepted in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.)
  2. A consensus on core outcomes in long COVID in adults (currently a preprint)

In addition, the CLOCK study looking at 3 month follow up of long COVID symptoms in children will also be published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health at the same time. The SMC ran a briefing on this at the preprint stage, last September (

We brought together the authors of these pieces of research to describe how their definitions complement each other, how they will help guide future research and clinical practice, and to answer journalists’ questions about progress in long COVID research.


Speakers included:

Professor Sir Terence Stephenson, Nuffield Professor of Child Health, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, and Chair of the Health Research Authority

Professor Roz Shafran, Chair in Translational Psychology, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health

Dr Daniel Munblit, Honorary Senior Lecturer, Imperial College London

Professor Paula Williamson, Professor of Biostatistics and NIHR Senior Investigator, University of Liverpool

Dr Tim Nicholson, Clinical Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London


This Briefing was accompanied by and SMC Roundup of comments

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