Long COVID

By February 24, 2021Covid-19 News

As more and more people recover from acute COVID-19 disease, clinicians and researchers are gathering additional information on the chronic effects of SARS-CoV-2, commonly referred to as “long COVID.” A study conducted in Israel, published in Clinical Microbiology and Infection, investigated chronic symptoms in recovered COVID-19 patients over a 6-month period. Fever was among the first symptoms to resolve, with a mean duration of 5.6 days, whereas fatigue (31.1 days), difficulty breathing (18.6), and changes to taste (18.6) and smell (23.5) tended to persist longer. Notably, nearly half of the participants reported chronic symptoms that persisted for 6 months, including 22% with ongoing fatigue, 15% with changes to taste and smell, and 8% with breathing difficulties. The onset of some of the chronic symptoms—such as fatigue, breathing difficulties, memory disorders, and hair loss—tended to be reported after the 6-week point, indicating that they were newly developed conditions in recovered patients rather than longer-term continuations of acute disease. Increasing prevalence of long-term health effects from SARS-CoV-2 infection are raising concerns regarding how long-term care will be managed for patients with long COVID. Chronic health conditions such as fatigue, neurological disorders, and difficulty breathing can be debilitating for some patients, and advocates and elected officials have raised the possibility of classifying long COVID as a disability. Patients with severe chronic conditions following SARS-CoV-2 infection may be unable to return to work, or school or other activities, but they may not be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Some advocates have called on the Social Security Administration to proactively issue guidance regarding how to handle COVID-19-related claims, in anticipation of increased need in the coming months and years for disability support for recovered patients, including financial support or accommodations or assistance in the workplace.

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