The COVID-19 Long-Haulers

Angie SzumlinskiHealth, Studies

The longer the pandemic drags on, the more obvious it becomes that for some patients, COVID-19 is like the unwelcome houseguest who won’t pack up and leave. “Anecdotally, there’s no question that there are a considerable number of individuals who have a postviral syndrome that really, in many respects, can incapacitate them for weeks and weeks following so-called recovery and clearing of the virus”, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said in July during a COVID-19 webinar.

This appears to be the case with the first severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which emerged in 2002 and was also caused by a coronavirus. Some people who were hospitalized with SARS still had impaired lung function 2 years after their symptoms began, according to a prospective study of 55 patients in Hong Kong.

As with SARS, many COVID-19 long haulers are health care workers who had massive exposure to the virus early in the pandemic, neuroimmunologist Avindra Nath, MD, of the national Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), noted in a recent editorial.

Fatigue is the most common of the top 50 symptoms experienced by the more than 1500 long-haulers who responded to a survey, followed by muscle or body aches, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing and difficulty concentrating. If you or anyone you know is experiencing these symptoms post-recovery from COVID-19, get medical attention. There may not be a cure but there may be options for treating symptoms. Stay the course, stay well, mask up, get vaccinated and stay tuned!