The term “long-haul COVID” has now entered our lexicon in relationship to this infectious disease. Unlike so many other infectious events, it looks like, in many people, COVID-19 is not monophasic. This means that a significant number of individuals have persistent symptoms for extended periods of time. This experience may now be affecting millions of people globally following their supposed “recovery.”
In fact, the NIH in December 2020 sponsored a meeting to call attention to this specific problem because of its global extent. Indeed, the long-term consequences of COVID-19 are now being described as a “second health crisis,” globally.
These long-term issues may involve the lungs, the cardiovascular system, the brain and other parts of the nervous system, and even may have psychological consequences, any of which may prove to be debilitating. And they are anything but uncommon. One study recently demonstrated that as many as 46% of competitive college athletes had evidence, post COVID-19, of heart damage. So the notion that a person gets this infection, spends some time in bed, and then should expect to be able to resume his or her typical life experience is now being challenged.
An article recently appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association entitled Long-term Health Consequences of COVID-19 authored by Carlos del Rio, MD, Distinguished Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. del Rio joins us today to discuss these long-term health consequences in terms of their frequency, mechanisms, and possible therapeutics, and what the future may look like with reference to this emerging issue.