What do we know about persistent COVID in 2023?

According to the latest data, Castile-La Mancha would have notified the health ministry of more than 621,000 cases of COVID, but how many of those resulted in a “permanent” one? To answer this question, let’s turn to the analysis of SMC Spain. And the fact is that any infection can lead to consequences, and SARS-CoV-2 is no exception. However, the lack of thorough research means that in 2023, uncertainty about the number of affected people remains high and treatment is scarce.

What is persistent COVID?

The consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection, which can last for months, are collectively referred to as persistent covid.long covid in English). They also get other names such as post-covid syndrome, chronic covid-19, post-covid-19 condition, post-acute effects of SARS-CoV-2, and others.

However, one of the difficulties in studying something as broad and complex as PTSD is the problem of reaching a common definition for its study. The WHO created it at the end of 2021, Spain published it in 2022, and the US National Institutes of Health did so in 2023.

What symptoms do you have?

The reason persistent covid is so hard to pin down is because of the sheer number of symptoms that have been associated with coronavirus infection, often from observational studies, no control group, or limitations or flaws in your design.

This has resulted in more than 200 symptoms associated with the problem, making persistent covid difficult to diagnose and study. However, some of the most commonly recurring and limited symptoms described in the scientific literature include: loss of the sense of taste or smell, fatigue, coughing, and mental fog.

How many people are affected?

A large number of symptoms associated with permanent covid, various definitions and the publication of biased studies, for example through surveys. Online that favor selection bias makes it difficult to determine the prevalence of this syndrome.

As a result, the answer to this question varies greatly depending on the study we are considering, and it is easy to find percentages between 10% and 80%.

Why is it produced?

Short answer: we don’t know, but several hypotheses, not necessarily mutually exclusive, have been put forward to explain persistent covid. Three of them: destabilization of the immune system after infection, persistence of the virus in some tissues and the formation of small blood clots.

Does it heal?

The available scientific literature indicates that the majority of patients improve and even fully recover after one year. The answer again depends on the definitions of persistent covid and recovery, but various studies estimate that the vast majority of patients recover within six months to one year.

Is there any treatment or ways to prevent this?

Currently, therapeutic options are limited. According to a study published in Lancet Infectious diseases.

In addition, vaccination against covid-19 has been shown to reduce the chance of complications. They are also less common after the first infection.

Does the risk increase with each infection?

Not all people have the same risk of persistent covid, so it does not necessarily increase with every infection. Despite the fact that the vast majority of the population has been infected, and the number of infections and re-infections is now higher than at the beginning of the pandemic, persistent cases of covid disease not only have not increased in proportion to the number of infections, but rather, some indicators show that they have decreased.

Why are there so many ambiguities at the moment?

Persistent covid is reminiscent of one of the blind spots of modern medicine, which shows the difficulty in understanding and helping patients with chronic problems of unknown or poorly understood origin.

In addition, the lack of biomarkers that facilitate the diagnosis of patients makes it very difficult for companies to take an interest in persistent covid, the prevalence of which is not even exactly known, considering it a risky investment.

“With so much heterogeneity between patients and few clear biomarkers, trying to treat persistent covid is, in fact, one of the riskiest bets,” reads an article published in Ferocious biotechnology.

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