Long COVID

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Updated 11 January 2022

As health research and services improve, the number of COVID-19 survivors is increasing worldwide. However, this means that the burden of post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC) or Long COVID is rising. To date (January 2022), more than half of the people who have had COVID-19 experienced symptoms six months after recovery from the initial infection.

Information for Patients

Information for GPs and other health professionals

 

Summary

  • The most common Long COVID symptoms are fatigue, shortness of breath, functional mobility impairments, and mental health (depression/anxiety), which can impact daily functioning.

  • Vaccinated people are mostly asymptomatic or present with mild symptoms while infected. Also, they report less symptoms of  long COVID.

  • A contemporary study suggests microcirculation and endothelial dysfunction are associated with Long COVID-19 symptoms, specifically non-respiratory symptoms.

  • A French study with a large population  (n= 26,823) indicated that people who believed or self-reported COVID-19 infection despite negative serological test results reported more persistent physical symptoms.

Long COVID Management

  • Kidney function should be monitored in Long COVID care as a large cohort (n = 1,726,683 US Veterans) of patients who survived COVID-19 have exhibited increased risk of kidney issues.
  • Blood results should be regularly monitored, and individual’s thrombotic risk should be regularly evaluated based on their comorbidities and coagulation profile as some patients have reported late-onset thrombocytopenia related to immune system dysregulation.
  • Glucocorticoids may be an alternative treatment option for patients who are not responding or who are intolerant to conventional therapy.
  • A novel treatment option, stellate ganglion block, has been proposed
  • Non-invasive brain stimulation using microcurrent (NIBS) was used to treat cognitive and visual impairments
  • A clinical trial on montelukast in respiratory symptoms in Long COVID is in Phase III.

Announcements

  • NIH awarded $470 million to support diverse research on the long-term effects of COVID-19 at 30 institutes. The NIH REsearching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) Initiative has started recruiting children and young adults who previously tested positive for COVID-19 to track the impact on their physical and mental health over three years. Details of the study are accessed here.

  • President Biden has announced disability protection rights for the COVID long hauliers.

  • Finland’s Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru said that Long COVID would be the largest chronic disease. Around 20% of its population are experiencing cognitive impairment.

  • Victoria University of Wellington has been granted $1.2 million to establish a longitudinal study in New Zealand to understand the short and long term impacts of COVID-19 and highlight equity issues anticipated by the cohort.

  • Researchers from the University of Auckland and Otago are investigating immune dysregulation and long-term immunity in those with Long Covid and relations with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS).
  • The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched a $1.15-billion research investigation over four years into long COVID.
  • The FDA approved an experimental antiviral medication (molnupiravir) for emergency use on 30th Nov, 2021.
  • University of Otago's Emeritus Professor Warren Tate has received funding from Brain Research New Zealand to study the relationship between Long COVID and Myalgic encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS).

 

The information on this page was prepared by multi-disciplinary health professionals at the National Institute for Health Innovation and affiliates and was originally created on 9 December 2020.