Long COVID-19 And Its Effects

Quetzalcoatl Dalupan, Staff Writer

COVID-19 has circulated around the world for just over two years now, first being discovered in Washington state on Jan 20, 2020 and continuing as of today with many thinking it has gone on for too long already. Sophomore Madie Quan states, “It feels like everyone has had it at this point.” As the pandemic continues to terrorize the country, new variants and long term affects come into the limelight. One very severe affect being something scientists are calling “Long COVID-19.”

According to NBCnews, “An estimated seven to 23 million Americans have experienced “long COVID-19,” a catch-all term for roughly 200 symptoms ranging from memory issues to chest pain to dizziness upon standing.” These long term symptoms persist even after recovering from COVID-19. It is still unknown why some people are affected by these symptoms while others are not. According to NBCnews, long COVID-19 can last “A few days,” up to “Weeks, months and years.” Symptoms can range from severe to mild and are often symptoms the patient had while diagnosed with COVID-19, as stated by PASC; “According to two recent publications from the Journal of the American Medical Association, ten to thirty percent of individuals who had COVID-19 reported at least one persistent symptom up to six months after the virus left their bodies.” The recovery from Long COVID-19 requires patients to stay home, not due to medical orders, but from the inability to perform physical actions for very long. One “Long Hauler” was interviewed on MercuryNews and says, “It was like having an ice pick in my brain, I kept shivering and had chronic fatigue. I slept 13 hours at a time and the fear of not being able to breathe gave me PTSD. It was like having a spider across your lungs.”

The risk of getting Long COVID-19 has shown a connection to how severe a person’s symptoms are when they have COVID-19, with those who end up in the emergency room more likely to both get Long COVID-19 as well as the severity of the symptoms. A victim of Long COVID-19, Mike Heidenberg, stated on NBCnews, “It literally sent me to the emergency room,” and after catching COVID-19 in the Spring of 2020, he is still unable to return to work. He is not the only one to suffer this sort of severe aftermath to having COVID-19. Many are left unable to perform even basic tasks in their day to day life, as said on Harvard.Edu on how bad Long COVID-19 can be, “For some, the effects are completely debilitating.”

Alongside causing turmoil in many American’s personal lives, Long COVID-19 may also be a contributor to the country’s current unemployment problem. Another “Long Hauler” stated in an interview with MercuryNews that, alongside many of the Long COVID-19 Symptoms, such as “typical Lyme disease symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and skin rash.” that she: “had all those along with “brain fog” that left her unable to focus on work.” As more people recover from COVID-19 and active cases fall, more Americans may be at risk for losing their jobs or struggling to continue working in the face of these devastating symptoms.

As Long COVID-19 becomes more and more prevalent, many are looking for ways to counter the effects and treat the long term symptoms. According to Patrizia Vannini, a neurologist at Brigham Women’s Hospital in Boston, who studies the infection’s effect on the brain, “There are things people can do to boost their brain’s resilience after a hit from COVID-19. Those include forming or maintaining social connections; adopting a healthy lifestyle, including good nutrition, sleep and exercise; seeking help when needed.”

As schools continue in person education, Washington state hits 81% vaccination status according to DepartmentOfHealthWA. This may help with future cases of Long COVID-19 but has no guarantee of doing so, as the causes of Long COVID-19 are still mostly unknown, but are being investigated. Recently, a small study done by Harvard University was performed to examine the potential causes of Long COVID-19, as reported by NBCnews on March 2: “ The small, 17-person study, led by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and the National Institutes of Health, examined the many symptoms behind long COVID-19 and found they may, in part, be driven by long-term nerve damage.” As Long COVID-19 can have such devastating lasting effects on those inflicted with it, it spells out a troublesome future for those in school or work. Freshmen Charles Corcoran states, “I’m less concerned for the young and more worried for senior citizens.” This issue seems to have some severe warning signs, especially because so many Americans currenly have COVID-19 or are recovering from it. From a study reported on by USAToday; “Before-and-after brain images of 785 British people, ages 51 to 81,” were taken, and it was found that after about half the participants contracted COVID-19 between the scans. The 15 participants who were sick enough with COVID-19 to require hospitalization showed the most brain changes, but even those who had much milder disease showed differences, the study found. These results show the potential long term danger COVID-19 has on the body. Even aside from Long COVID-19, other damages may remain that impair other part of people’s lives.

In order to quell future spikes of Long COVID-19, preventing COVID-19 cases from happening in the first place is vital, though many states are now repealing mask mandates. From the spikes in cases as recent as January according to NYtimes where new cases rose by almost 800,000 per day across multiple weeks, masks and vaccines are more vital now than before. Junior Amaris Zelaya says, “We need to keep the mask mandate, especially in schools.” This problem is further escalated by the existence of new COVID-19 variants, which prove to be more infectious and dangerous. Senior Christian Darcy states, “We shouldn’t get rid of masks right now.”