Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

Long COVID has potentially affected up to 23 million Americans, and left 1 million people permanently unable to work, according to a recent report from the US Government Accountability Office. A study released earlier this month in the scientific journal Nature concludes that nearly half of patients who suffered from symptomatic Covid have not recovered several months later. Experts at the EMS briefing on Oct 26 discussed the potential effects of the pandemic. 

Dr. Nisha Viswanathan,
Dr. Nisha Viswanathan

Mild or moderate COVID-19 lasts about two weeks for most people. But in some others, long-term effects of COVID-19 can cause lingering health problems and wreak havoc for months. SARS-CoV-2 can attack the body in a range of ways, causing damage to the lungs, heart, nervous system, kidneys, liver and other organs. Mental health problems can arise from grief and loss, unresolved pain or fatigue, or from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after treatment in the intensive care unit (ICU). Doctors are seeing a spectrum of symptoms after acute COVID-19, some of which would be expected after other critical illnesses.

Dr. Nisha Viswanathan, Director of UCLA’s Long COVID Program said we know from our early studies that about one in three who were unvaccinated were exhibiting signs of long Covid. But now, with a mixed population of vaccinated and unvaccinated people, researchers are seeking more clarity on who’s still experiencing long-term symptoms. Dr. Viswanathan said most of her long Covid patients already had pre-existing conditions like cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and obesity. So, ways to help prevent [long Covid], in addition to vaccination, really do consist of cleaner eating [and] regular exercise. According to research, the virus can also change hormones in the brain and cause depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and concentration problems in the long-term impact of symptoms.

Dr. Jose Luis Perez, Chief Medical Officer, South Central Family Health Center said symptoms can last for weeks, months, and sometimes longer, and are more common in patients with severe COVID-19 disease. One of the most common is multisystem inflammatory syndrome. Perez called on the public to wash their hands and wear masks frequently, and to seek medical attention immediately if they feel unwell.

Michelle Burroughs, MPH, Director of Community Engagement and Outreach for the UC Riverside School of Medicine’s Center for Healthy Communities said the quality of care received between the African-American community and the white community is unequal, and she believes that the subsequent impact will have a far-reaching impact on the African-American community.