Many people are marking the first anniversary of their COVID-19 infection. What is remarkable is that chronic issues termed post-viral syndrome or Long COVID continue to plague many of them.

They complain of days of devastating fatigue brought on by mental exertion or physical activity. They resort to making frequent notes to compensate for short-term memory loss. Sudden onsets of shortness of breath and racing heartbeat provoke anxiety and depression. It remains a mystery why this condition afflicts some and not others.

Mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms are typical for millions of people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, usually middle-aged and without the medical comorbidities that define those most at risk for severe disease.

However, approximately one-third will develop symptoms that typify what has been come to be known as Long COVID. Also called long haulers, most of them never even required hospitalization, but after clearing their infection, began to complain of symptoms like chronic fatigue or “brain fog,” leading to cognitive and memory issues and difficulties with concentration. Their persistent loss of smell vexes many.

A rendering of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

Children, in this regard, aren’t spared. Almost 3.2 million children in the US have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Pediatricians have been noting that some are developing problems that have persisted for weeks or months after their infection. Though large-scale data on this issue is sorely lacking, data emerging out of the UK shows that around 13 percent of children under 11 with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing had at least one symptom five weeks after infection. Fatigue, poor sleep, and breathing difficulties were some of the disorders mentioned. For adolescents, that figure was similar, at 15 percent.

There is no federal registry in the US that is presently tracking these cases. A National Institutes of Health initiative was announced in late February that promised to study the cause of Long COVID. The UK’s Office for National Statistics estimated that by mid-December there were at least 186,000 people in England that had persistent COVID-19 symptoms five to 12 weeks or longer after the acute phase of the infection.

“If even a small proportion of the vast numbers of people infected with COVID-19 develop Long COVID syndrome, it represents a significant public health concern,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institute s of Health (NIH) in January.

Though the number of deaths globally is approaching 3 million, the number of confirmed infected individuals is almost 125 million. It is very possible that this virus has already infected about ten percent of the globe’s population. A report published in Royal Society Open Science from November 2020 remarks, “Despite an overall improvement in detection rates as the pandemic has progressed, our estimates showed that as of August 31, 2020, the true number of people to have been infected across our sample of 15 countries was 6.2 (95% CI: 4.3–10.9) times greater than the reported number of cases.”


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