As if COVID weren’t bad enough, experts warn of lingering symptoms

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With nearly 5,000 new cases of COVID daily, Ohio and the rest of the world are still grappling with a pandemic that began nearly two years ago. What we have barely started to deal with, two experts said last week, is the long hangover that many know as “long COVID.” “

This phrase refers to a set of symptoms that persist for months after a person is infected with the coronavirus. They include diseases of the lungs, heart, eyes, liver, brain, bladder, kidneys and pancreas. They also include problems of a less tangible nature, such as loss of smell, chronic brain fog, headaches, and fatigue.

And, according to a October study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, many, many people are likely affected by long-term COVID. A review of 57 studies found that more than half of the coronavirus patients followed still suffered from symptoms of COVID longer than six months after being infected.

With 78% of them having been hospitalized for COVID, this group appeared to have suffered worse infections than the general population. Conversely, people who are fully vaccinated are much less likely to be hospitalized and 49% less likely to develop a lengthy COVID, according to a study in the UK.

Even so, the consequences of the disease are likely to be enormous.

Ohio, for example, has seen more than 84,000 COVID hospitalizations, so it seems plausible that well over 40,000 Ohioans have suffered – or are still suffering – from COVID for a long time.

Nationally, “you’re talking about 30, 40, 70 million people,” said Brett Giroir, who at the start of the pandemic was deputy secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services when the pandemic began. a press conference. online seminar organized by the National Institute for Healthcare Management Foundation.

As they were at the start of the pandemic, policymakers are looking for ways to deal with the long COVID without a lot of scientific information to work with until now.

“We unfortunately face a real lack of knowledge,” Walter Koroshetz, director of the Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health, said during the webinar.

“We are really trying to understand what is the biological basis of the problems that people face and hope to get answers very quickly that can then be used to help patients,” added Koroshetz.

Giroir is now working with the health consulting firm Leavitt Partners on several files, including issues related to the pandemic. It offered a wide framework to deal with a long covid.

“How to organize the health sector” in response to the long COVID? He asked. “Do we have long COVID clinics. Do we have telehealth triage? How do we take care of that 30-50% of 140 million people with potentially long-standing COVID? “

Giroir offers several steps to address the issue. These include helping medically underserved populations through grants to federally approved health centers and primary care practices, a national survey of the disease, and working to raise public awareness.

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