Federal health officials investigate ‘long COVID’


WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The federal government is devoting millions of dollars and working rapidly to understand the symptoms of COVID-19 that can linger with patients for months.

“Fatigue … so bad you can’t get out of bed; it makes it impossible for you to work,” Dr. John Brooks, the chief medical officer for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 response, listed at a congressional hearing Wednesday. “Anxiety and depression, lingering. … Chronic difficulty breathing.”

He said those symptoms affect tens of millions of COVID-19 “long-haulers” — up to a third of those who survive the illness.

In December, Congress granted the NIH more than $1 billion to research the symptoms and find therapies to help. The NIH is now recruiting tens of thousands of patients for research into ‘long COVID,’ including its causes.

“Long COVID and the people living with it can no longer be a hidden toll of the pandemic,” National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins said.

“We must help patients receive proper treatments and learn ways to resolve these symptoms,” Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., agreed.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., said the federal government must be prepared to do more.

“Our health system is facing an avalanche of long COVID patients,” she said. “We may need a nationwide network of long COVID clinics … disability insurance, workplace accommodations and comprehensive insurance coverage.”

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