He is not running 5 km three times a week, as he used to. He is not going to the pub. He is not working. And he is not getting better.
“If I knew I would get this sick, I would have taken everything very seriously in March,” Russell said. He said, “But all we heard was that if you were infected and you were a young person, you would most likely not have any symptoms. Or you would be sick for a couple of weeks and that would be it.”
Instead, Russell suffers from chest pain, migraines, severe shortness of breath, dizziness and tiredness, one of the “long covid” sufferers who have experienced long-term symptoms from coronavirus.
According to the latest data from Public Health England, a record number of people in their 20s are testing positive for Kovid-19, with 3,366 viruses in the first week of September.
This is more than 3,325 cases at the end of April, although those tests were mostly conducted on people in hospitals. Although people under 40 are at a very low risk of dying from the disease, 20-somethings like Russell are catching far more numbers of Kovid-19s than other age groups: 20- to 29-year-old children all About 28% of new infections make up.
Some will require treatment at the hospital, but longtime Kovid support groups and medical experts fear that a significant minority will end up with a seriously debilitating condition that scientists have not yet understood.
The medical adviser of the ME association, Charles Shepherd, said, “We have been stressed at this point in time that young people will be fine and the main reason they should not go out is because they can infect their grandchildren”. Supports people with encephalitis or chronic fatigue syndrome. The association has looked at substantial numbers of long-term patients for support.
“There is a risk that if young people catch the disease, they may not end up in hospital, but they may have a disease that ends them after Kovid syndrome. This is not going to happen for the majority, but is a real risk for a significant minority, ”said Shepherd.
According to Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, around 600,000 people have some type of Kovid disease, which says that around 12% of victims report symptoms of the Kovid Tracker app for up to 30 days. One in 200 says that the effect lasts more than 90 days.
Russell, a theater-specializing photographer, has not worked since he fell ill. He is accurate about the date: 14 March. “I have a lot of time to look back and think, what was I doing then?” And I wished I wasn’t doing it.
His illness lasted two weeks and he did not feel better for long, then experienced chest pain “as if someone was sitting on me”. But hospital doctors and their GPs said the tests were not a problem – a common experience of longtime Kovid patients, according to Frances Simpson, a founder of the support group Long Kovid SOS, who says his symptoms are seriously Many struggle to take over. medical profession.
Russell was most fortunate – he changed GP, and the new doctor ordered an antibody test that confirmed he had the virus. He is now one of 500 patients participating in the Coverscan clinical trial under the influence of Covid-19.
“When people refuse to wear masks or follow the most basic of social distance rules, it’s very disappointing,” Russell said. “I just want to shake them and say ‘I’ve been living with this for six months.”
“I think there are a lot of young people – and it’s human nature – to think that if something doesn’t directly affect you, it’s almost non-existent. My friends who are still going out to the pub right now Are also going out for dinner and not really taking it seriously. I worry for them. ”
Russell was in good condition before the virus struck, his regular 5-km run was about 23 minutes. Now he struggles to climb the stairs.
Long Kovid SOS and other groups say their members get little help and have little recognition of the situation. They want the government to formally recognize the long-term effects of the virus, provide financial support for those unable to work because of long exposure, and establish multi-disciplinary clinics to assess and treat patients Do it
Research has only recently begun into the long-term effects of Kovid-19, but Shepherd said the working principle was that coronoviruses disrupted people’s immune systems, causing cytokine storms, or excesses of the body’s protective system. , Which is thought to be a factor of ME and chronic fatigue syndrome as well.
“Numerous studies over the last two or three years suggest that immune system dysfunction is possibly involved in ME,” he said. The immune system continues to activate at a low level, trying to fight a virus that is no longer there. This reaction can then affect the central nervous system and the hypothalamus.
If post-covarian fatigue and ME are associated, research may provide solutions to both conditions. Studying ME has been difficult because most people with the condition have lived with it for months – if a virus was involved, it is very short by the time researchers visit their patient.
“This is the first time you can follow people from day one. Researchers are building large cohorts, they’ve got blood samples, and they can almost follow patients from the point of infection when they develop post-viral fatigue. We have never had the opportunity to do so before. ”