Public health experts are divided on how many people are suffering from COVID-19, a potentially debilitating disease that occurs after a patient recovers from the coronavirus.
Adverse effects of the disease can include fatigue, pain, neurological problems, and even changes in mental health.
Initially, public health officials thought only a small minority of people would suffer from long COVID-19. But some studies now indicate that a majority of people infected with the coronavirus have long symptoms of COVID-19.
Yet estimates of the number of people with long COVID are all over the map.
Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine have found that more than half of COVID-19 survivors have had COVID-19 for a long time.
Another study from the University of Arizona found that about 2 out of 3 people who have experienced mild or moderate cases of coronavirus had long-lasting symptoms.
Other reports have been more conservative, estimating between 10 and 30% of infected people develop long-term symptoms. Those who experience ongoing symptoms of long COVID-19 are sometimes known as long haul COVID-19.
People who have developed severe cases of COVID-19 are generally thought to be more likely to have long COVID-19, but even those who have had asymptomatic cases have reported lingering sequelae months after testing negative.
One problem in determining how many people get long COVID-19 is defining it.
Besides the wide range of symptoms, there is still debate over when someone is considered to have long COVID-19. Some health authorities consider a patient to have the disease if symptoms persist after three to six weeks, while others believe it should be considered for a longer term.
Jim Heath, president and professor at the Institute for Systems Biology, leads the Pacific Northwest consortium studying the long COVID-19 as part of the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) RECOVER initiative, which examines the post-COVID-19 status and potential means of prevention and treatment.
Heath told The Hill that if a definition of long COVID-19 was used – one in which symptoms persisted around four to six weeks after infection – then around half of those infected would be considered to have long COVID-19. .
“But if you look at like six months, which is for people who are really going to have to live with something, it’s probably more like 15%, something like that. I don’t know if we have any really hard numbers on that yet,” Heath said.
According to Heath, an estimate of 15 to 20 percent of coronavirus survivors experiencing long COVID-19 after six months was a reasonable “educated guess” and he added that there was evidence to support that rate. ‘occurrence.
When The Hill was contacted for comment, the NIH said initial studies found that at least half of hospitalized COVID-19 patients reported “persistent weakness or fatigue” months after recovery.
Studies of the prevalence of long COVID-19 have been “relatively few,” according to the NIH, and they have all focused on people who had symptomatic cases of COVID-19.
Heath reiterated that most people won’t get COVID-19 for long, at least if you consider the condition to be something that will last six months after infection. In comparison, about 15% of people who contract Lyme disease, a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks, will experience effects that last beyond six months.
What makes long COVID-19 unique is its onset in those who have had mild cases, Heath said.
The NIH said many observational studies in children and adults are underway to find potential treatments for long haul. The agency has asked for applications to launch new clinical trials this summer to test potential ways to prevent and treat the long COVID-19.
“Contrary to the wealth of previous knowledge that led to vaccines against Sars-CoV-2 and a host of other viruses, much less is known about the causes of persistent symptoms following infectious diseases or how best to to treat them. As a result, there is more knowledge needed to fuel future scientific advances,” the NIH said.