Prolonged COVID responses are gradually focused

Prolonged COVID continues to ask more questions than answers 27 months after the coronavirus pandemic, but researchers are gradually gaining a better understanding.

The long-term effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection, commonly known as COVID, have been the subject of more than 1,650 articles published in the National Library of Medicine since 2020.

When asked about long-term COVID, most doctors recommend with a warning of their experience and / or studies – more research is needed to know for sure.

“We’re just starting to do all this,” the doctor said. Matthew Sims, Director of Infectious Diseases Research, Beaumont Health. “It’s complicated, it’s incomprehensible. Honestly, I think we can find that this is a very big issue, because I think we find that long-lasting COVID is the same problem as other things and all the studies that will be done on long-term COVID. Other diseases, such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, are difficult to diagnose now. We do not know”.

However, researchers have made some progress. Below are some common questions and answers related to long-term COVID.

What is long COVID?

A typical definition of chronic COVID is the long-term symptoms of SARS-CoV-2, which can begin weeks, months, or even years after the initial infection.

As for the specific symptoms that have passed over time, they are different.

A recent survey by the University of Michigan Center for Health and Research Transformation (CHRT) found that the most common symptoms of respiratory problems are followed by loss or distortion of sense of smell or taste, as well as prolonged anxiety, depression or other mental illness. health issues.

Other common symptoms included nervous system symptoms, neurological problems, diabetes, heart problems, kidney damage, and fatigue.

Cover Michigan Survey is a telephone and online survey of randomly selected Michigan adults. Its findings were analyzed by CHRT staff, who said many of their findings were supported by national data and additional research.

“I want to think that this is the tip of the iceberg with long COVID, because everything about this virus, this pandemic and this disease is very new and every day we still learn a lot,” said Melissa Riba, director. Research and evaluation on CHRT.

In July 2021, Americans with long-term COVID disability became disabled under the law. A person’s long-term COVID condition should be evaluated individually to determine if they are significantly limiting.

How common is this?

The Cover Michigan Survey identified more than a third of Michigan residents who were diagnosed with COVID-19 and introduced themselves as COVID-long-haul carriers. Although the sample size was limited – 138 people with COVID, 48 of whom reported long-term COVID – met or adhered to trends in other studies.

The University of Michigan School of Public Health analyzed 50 studies worldwide and more than 1.6 million people and found that the prevalence of chronic COVID was around 43%.

“Overall, if you look at most of the literature, it generally falls in the 25% to 43% range, while most sources fall into the narrow range of 30% to 35%,” said Jonathan Cao. , Project Manager at CHRT.

It is not yet clear which demographics are more or less close to long-term COVID, but researchers are becoming more transparent about the issue.

“The risk factors for taking COVID for a long time are similar to those at high risk for serious illness,” the doctor said. Liam Sullivan, Infectious Diseases Specialist, Spectrum Health. “Many people with mild cases of COVID have long-term problems with COVID. So, it is not clear yet. “

A study of more than 205,000 COVID patients in Sweden found that 32% of those admitted to the ICU developed long-term COVID. This compares with 6% of hospitalized but not in intensive care and 1% of outpatients.

According to a study conducted in California in 2021 and published by the CDC, other groups reporting long-term disproportionate levels of COVID were women, 40 to 54 people, and pre-existing people.

In Michigan, CHRT found that women reported four times more long-term reports of COVID and twice as many diabetics as their counterparts.

Does the vaccine offer protection against long-term COVID?

The study, published last month in the journal Nature Medicine, used 2021 Veterans Affairs health records to assess long-term COVID vaccine protection. St. A Louis, Missouri study found that long-term COVID vaccination reduced the risk of COVID by about 15%.

This was one of the largest studies to date. The researchers looked at the records of 34,000 vaccinated people with infections, 113,000 people who were not vaccinated with COVID, and more than 13 million people who were not infected with COVID.

The study showed no difference in known long-term symptoms or severity of symptoms.

Dr. Sullivan said you should be careful when extrapolating these results to the general population, but there are risk factors when the average population in the study population is veterans over 60.

“Getting vaccinated does not eliminate the risk of COVID for a long time,” he said. “You still have a long-term risk of COVID; what is becoming clear is that the risk is probably less and people will not be exposed to long-term COVID, but this question still needs to be fully answered.

Sullivan said he expects the results of a large study being conducted by the CDC and some partner universities to better determine the extent and scope of long-term COVID.

What are the economic consequences of long-term COVID?

The latest Cover Michigan Survey shows that long-term carriers are in a better financial position than those who recovered from COVID a year ago and have never been infected.

Researchers have found that long-haul truckers may not be able to work in their pre-COVID capacity, so they take long-term medical leave, work shorter hours, have their salaries cut, or quit their jobs.

A national survey of more than 1,000 COVID patients showed that 44% of workers with long-term COVID had reduced their weekly working hours. The majority of respondents said that they should take medical leave due to long-term symptoms of COVID.

Analyzing Michigan’s long-term COVID data, the researchers said there was a need to further study the impact of staffing efforts to help long-haul truckers. They offer:

  • Additional research to understand the health and economic consequences of long-term COVID in Michigan, as well as funding programs;
  • Develop funding programs, policies, and approaches to support existing clinical care resources for long-haul carriers;
  • Establish cross-sectoral partnerships across the country to address the long-term effects of COVID.

By publishing the results of the survey, CHRT researchers hope to raise awareness among lawmakers and business leaders about the prevalence of long-distance haulage, as well as people who feel lonely with suffering and long-term symptoms.

“We can ring the bell and raise the flag,” hey, it could be and could be a really big deal for politicians, for the state, for the economy, for the health care system, and we should be. prepared, ”said Riba.

If you have any questions about COVID-19, please answer them covidquestions@mlive.com should be considered for a future MLive report.

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