The challenges of getting long-lived patients back to work


When Deborah Shaffer tried to return to work two weeks after her Covid-19 infection, she forgot which floor of the veterans hospital she worked on. It was one of many strange expressions of the brain fog that has plagued the social worker in Wichita, Kansas, since she contracted the virus last November.

Ms. Shaffer is a Covid carrier, someone who suffers from chronic symptoms for weeks to months after her initial infection. After his first failed attempts to return to the hospital, he has not worked a full day since he fell ill and has no idea if or when he will return in person.

“I’m a trained therapist and clinical social worker, but I can’t complete even the most basic tasks before I can,” says 52-year-old Ms. Shaffer. He recently started working from home, although he has not yet logged an eight-hour shift. .

It’s not easy for Covid carriers to get back to work. Scientists are just beginning to understand the mysteries of chronic Covid, also called long Covid or post-acute Covid. It can lead to various symptoms after the initial infection, including severe fatigue, cognitive problems, digestive problems, irregular heart rate, headaches, dizziness, and fluctuating blood pressure.

It is not clear exactly how many people suffer from long-lasting symptoms. But studies suggest it is a significant portion of the more than 107 million people with confirmed cases worldwide. About 26% of the 1,733 Chinese Covid patients discharged from a Wuhan hospital between January and May 2020 were still experiencing fatigue six months after the acute infection, according to a study published in January in The Lancet.

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