Long COVID: CDC hard at work to better understand the full picture

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Millions of people diagnosed with COVID-19 still suffer from persistent symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working to put together a complete picture of the long-standing COVID, the condition syndrome that persists after contracting COVID-19but a complete understanding still remains elusive.

“An increasing number of people previously infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have reported persistent symptoms or the onset of long-term symptoms, ≥4 weeks after acute COVID-19; these symptoms are commonly called post-COVID conditions, or long COVID, “the CDC said in a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).


The report added that COVID-19 survivors have double the risk of developing a clot in the lung, otherwise known as pulmonary embolism, or other lung problems. And among those who survived COVID-19, one in five between the ages of 18 and 64 and one in four aged 65 and over experienced at least one condition that could be attributable to a previous COVID-19 infection.


The agency organizes the symptoms of the condition into several categories, including general symptoms, such as fatigue, respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath, heart symptoms such as chest pain or rapid heartbeat, and neurological symptoms, including what are referred to as “clouded brain.”

“Some people with post-COVID conditions have symptoms that aren’t explained by testing,” the CDC said. “People with post-COVID conditions can have health problems due to different types and combinations of symptoms that occur over different time periods.”

Anyone who has had COVID-19 can experience the condition, with a recent analysis of private insurance claims finding that over 75% of COVID-19 patients have not been hospitalized for their initial illness. The researchers looked at data from the first four months after creating a special diagnostic code for the condition last year.

Atlanta, Georgia, USA – August 28, 2011: Close up of the entrance sign for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sign located near the 1700 block of Clifton Road in Atlanta, Georgia on the campus of Emory University. Vertical composition.

Estimates vary in the proportion of those who develop COVID-19 for a long timebut about 13% develop the syndrome within one month of initial infection, 2.5% develop the condition at three months based on self-report, and over 30% of hospitalized patients develop long-lasting COVID-19 symptoms at 6 months, according to the CDC.

Some people are more at risk of COVID-19 for a long time, including those who suffered a severe COVID-19 disease, those with chronic medical problems before they had COVID-19, those not vaccinated against COVID-19 and those affected by health inequalities, such as certain racial and ethnic minority groups and people with disabilities, according to the CDC.

The UK’s Health Safety Agency, however, analyzed eight studies that researched the impact of vaccines on long COVID and found that two of the eight had inconclusive evidence that vaccination reduced the risk of developing long COVID. according to their briefing.

Another study of 209 patients in Cell suggests high levels of coronavirus in the bloodstream at the onset of infection, as well as the presence of specific antibodies that accidentally attack our own tissues, known as autoantibodies, can increase the risk of long-term COVID.


The study also found that the virus is known to cause mononucleosis in most people in childhood, known as Epstein-Barr viruswhich usually goes dormant after the initial infection, is another possible risk factor reactivating in adulthood in those who have had COVID for some time.

The exact cause of long COVID is unknown, but some research suggests that an overactive immune response to the initial infection can cause long COVID symptoms, said Dr. Michael Peluso, an infectious disease physician at the University of California, San Francisco.

“We know that during acute COVID-19, some people have a really stimulated immune response and some people have a reduced immune response, and that response can determine the trajectory of how well someone does,” he said.

Some research suggests that about 60 percent of all long-term COVID patients are women, consistent with other long-term conditions with similar symptoms, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, according to the Times.

Recent research suggests long spikes in COVID around middle age, with a recent Northwestern study of the first 100 patients treated for neurological symptoms in a post-COVID-19 clinic finding the condition’s peak age at age 43.

There is no single test to diagnose long COVID-19, but the CDC notes that a healthcare professional should consider the diagnosis based on a patient’s history, including a diagnosis of COVID-19 from a positive test or symptoms or exposure. combined with a physical examination

But some will also develop new health problems after the initial illness, the agency noted.

Sick young man in bed, covered with a light gray blanket, surrounded by used handkerchiefs

Sick young man in bed, covered with a light gray blanket, surrounded by used handkerchiefs

A recent Scottish study published in Nature Medicine found that one in eight patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 between May 2020 and March 2021 were subsequently diagnosed with myocarditis or heart inflammation, while damage to other organs, such as the kidneys, was also common. .

“COVID-19 is a multisystem disease and our study shows that injuries to the heart, lungs and kidneys can be seen after the initial [hospitalization] in scans and blood tests, ”said Colin Berry, lead researcher of the study and professor of cardiology and imaging at the University of Glasgow.


“The best way to prevent post-COVID conditions is to protect yourself and others from infection. For the right people, get vaccinated and keep up to date on vaccines against COVID-19 can help prevent COVID-19 infection and protect against serious disease, “the CDC said.

If you have long COVID, click here if you are eligible to participate in the National Institute of Health’s RECOVER study.

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