Guidance for Certifying Deaths Due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)




Certifying deaths due to post-acute sequelae of
In the acute phase, clinical manifestations and complications
of COVID-19 of varying degrees have been documented,
including death. However, patients who recover from the acute
phase of the infection can still suffer long-term effects (8).
Post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC), commonly referred
to as “long COVID,” refers to the long-term symptoms, signs,
and complications experienced by some patients who have
recovered from the acute phase of COVID-19 (8–10). Emerging
evidence suggests that severe acute respiratory syndrome
coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19,
can have lasting effects on nearly every organ and organ system
of the body weeks, months, and potentially years after infection
(11,12). Documented serious post-COVID-19 conditions include
cardiovascular, pulmonary, neurological, renal, endocrine,
hematological, and gastrointestinal complications (8), as well as
death (13).

Consequently, when completing the death certificate, certifiers
should carefully review and consider the decedent’s medical
history and records, laboratory test results, and autopsy report,
if one is available. For decedents who had a previous SARSCoV-2 infection and were diagnosed with a post-COVID-19
condition, the certifier may consider the possibility that the death
was due to long-term complications of COVID-19, even if the
original infection occurred months or years before death. If it is
determined that PASC was the UCOD, it should be reported on
the lowest line used in Part I with the condition(s) it led to on the
line(s) above in a logical sequence in terms of time and etiology.
If it is determined that PASC was not the UCOD but was still a
significant condition that contributed to death, then it should be
reported in Part II. Certifiers should use standard terminology,
that is, “Post-acute sequelae of COVID-19.” See Scenario IV in
the Appendix for an example certification. In accordance with
all death certification guidance, if the certifier determines that
PASC did not cause or contribute to death, then they should not
report it anywhere on the death certificate.

Author(s): National Vital Statistics System, National Center for Health Statistics

Publication Date: updated 27 Feb 2023

Publication Site: CDC