Long COVID leaves patients and researchers in a circle of questions


Millions of COVID-19 survivors worldwide – even those who had mild illness – are reporting symptoms months later, including brain fog, persistent fatigue, and lung, heart, or kidney damage. .

why it matters: For too long, these long-sleeves, as they call themselves, have not been taken seriously by providers and researchers, with some doctors telling Axios, saying that research devoted to treating patients with lethargic symptoms Is urgently needed.

Doctors started to realize Long COVID was a problem last spring, and so far “there is little to show for it,” says cardiologist Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute.

“I am very disappointed at how little attention has gone to this. We have at least 10% of people with COVID infection who have been suffering for a few months or still. [now] six months later. … This is the largest category of people who are adversely affected, many of whom cannot work and they cannot function normally. “

– Eric Topol

What’s happening: Many providers and health care systems initially dismissed the symptoms as something more related, but in many cases mounting evidence points to SARS-COV-2 as the culprit.

  • A study published in the Lancet Looked at people who had severe COVID-19 disease in China and found that after six months, 75% continued to experience at least one symptom.
  • A prior study in Medicative, Not yet peer-reviewed, surveyed 3,762 self-described tall-skinned people from 56 countries with symptoms likely after the onset of COVID-19. Six months after first becoming ill, about half were unable to work full time and 22% were not working at all. 88% had cognitive dysfunction or memory loss, and most had multiple symptoms.
  • Fragments of SARS-CoV-2 have been found in multiple organs and Mayo Clinic reports they have reported prolonged persistent headaches, lack of smell (anosmia) and taste (age), and sleepiness.
  • Mayo found that some patients had organ damage, including an injured heart muscle, causing myocarditis, palpitations, and palpitations; Stained lung tissue, leading to breathing problems; And causes brain damage, brain fog, stroke, seizures, and Guillain-Barre syndrome.

between the lines: There are other viruses that either cause long-lasting symptoms, such as Epstein-Barr’s, or persist in systems where it can reactivate and trigger subsequent complications, such as varicella-zoster.

  • It is unknown if SARS-CoV-2 can hide in the system, but a recent preliminary study of animals in the journal Viruss indicates that this may be a possibility.
  • COVID must be discovered long before targeted therapy is performed, that is to say Neha Dangerch, director, management and transfer for Sinai Health System.
  • “Is it reactivation of the virus? Is it an immunological response or a persistent immunological response to early viral exposure? Or is it a recombination of viral particles that triggers some of these symptoms?” Dangayach asks.

There are many questions About how some people develop long COVID-19 and others do not.

  • “Why you, and not me? Why? [some] 80-year-old people who die of COVID, and some survive? Why do some 20-year-olds receiving COVID require a double lung transplant, while 90% of all others have no symptoms? We do not know, ”says Igor Koralnik, head of neuro-infectious diseases and head of global neurology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, who started a long COVID clinic in May.
  • Topol says they need to find out that early treatments such as monoclonal antibodies can reduce the likelihood of long COVIDs.

What will happen next: Dongyach says that Long COVID is becoming a high priority, and several longitudinal studies are coming up soon.

  • In the US, Congress has earmarked some funding for research and the NIH has begun to study the issue, says NIH Director Francis Collins.
  • Long-healers are urged to seek out specialized clinics, join support networks and consider sharing data in this patient-led survey.
  • While there are not enough, The number of multicultural clinics is increasing across the country to try to address the myriad problems associated with long COVIDs.
  • Korlenik states that his clinic has specialists in all those specialties, including psychiatry and social work, to care for long-term COVID patients.

Bottom-line: Dangayach states, “To really collaborate around the world and better understand it, develop targeted therapies, and identify these patients longitudinally is to follow when these symptoms resolve and resolve these symptoms What do I think? “

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