Updated: May 24, 2022
The lingering effects of COVID-19 can be felt by some, not all, individuals who have already recovered from the acute phase of the virus. Why do symptoms linger in only some people, and not others?
What Is Long-Haul COVID?
Individuals who have contracted SARS-CoV-2 and don’t fully recover after a period of a few weeks may be considered to have PASC.
Long-haul COVID, or “Long COVID” is defined by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as “post-acute sequelae of SARSCoV-2 infection” or PASC. Individuals who have contracted SARS-CoV-2 and don’t fully recover after a period of a few weeks may be considered to have PASC. A significant number of patients continue to experience symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, “brain fog”, sleep disorders, fever, gastrointestinal symptoms, depression, anxiety, and have reported these symptoms for months after recovering from the initial stages of COVID-19.
Detailed List of Long-Term Effects of COVID-19
Hopkins Medicine has produced a detailed list and description of Long COVID3, and anyone experiencing one or more of the symptoms on the list should contact a medical professional AND consider participating in the research related to this issue.
Research Related to Long-Haul COVID
There is still much to learn about Long Covid......a public health priority.
What does the spectrum of recovery from SARS-CoV-2 infection look like across the population?
How many people continue to have symptoms of COVID-19, or even develop new symptoms, after acute SARS-CoV-2 infection?
What is the underlying biological cause of these prolonged symptoms?
What makes some people vulnerable to this but not others?
Does SARS-CoV-2 infection trigger changes in the body that increase the risk of other conditions, such as chronic heart or brain disorders?
There is still much to learn about Long Covid, making this research initiative very important as scientists, researchers, and health care providers seek to understand this public health priority. It is important to understand that research takes time, and new guidance and treatment regimens may be recommended as new information is uncovered.
What Causes Long Haul Covid?
It has been determined that individuals with high risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma and other conditions are more likely to have more serious symptoms of COVID-19. However, Long COVID can happen in individuals who only experienced a mild case of acute COVID-19. The reason for this is unknown, prompting the need for further research.
Lifting of Mask Mandates
We do not fully understand COVID-19, and our lack of understanding of its impact, such as Long-Haul COVID, raises the concern among many of the premature lifting of mask mandates. Individuals who are most vulnerable, or immunocompromised, are put at higher risk with the lifting of mask mandates in certain areas of the United States.
The pandemic is still fully underway, and the illusion of a ‘return to normal’ is highly unlikely if that means the population is expecting things to return to the way they were before COVID. The reality is we are living with COVID-19, as it has not been eradicated and COVID-related deaths are still occurring. The lack of reporting and accurate data collection of COVID-related deaths gives the impression to some that we are in the clear, and is causing complacency in many areas of our lives.
1. Fernández-de-Las-Peñas C. Long COVID: current definition. Infection. 2022;50(1):285-286.
2. Collins FS. NIH launches new initiative to study “Long COVID”. Available at: https://www.nih.gov/about-nih/who-we-are/nih-director/statements/nih-launches-new-initiative-study-long-COVID, 2022.
3. Tae Chung MHM, Amanda Kole Morrow, Arun Venkatesan, Emily Pfeil Brigham. COVID ‘Long Haulers’: Long-Term Effects of COVID-19. Hopkins Medicine. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/covid-long-haulers-long-term-effects-of-covid19, 2022.
4. Staff MC. COVID-19: Who’s at higher risk of serious symptoms? Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-who-is-at-risk/art-20483301, 2022.