A summary of recent research into Long Covid

There still needs to be an agreed-upon clinical definition for the symptoms associated with long-term Covid-19 infections.

The newest issue of Brain & Life, the official publication of the American Academy of Neurology, contains an accessible article by Adam Kovak on the latest research concerning long-term Covid. What we know, what we are trying to learn, and what we need to learn more about are all covered, with specific examples from people's lives of the long-term effects of a virus that we are still learning more about.

"At least one in 13 American adults (7.5 percent) who have had COVID-19 exhibit long COVID symptoms, according to a survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A study published in Neurotherapeutics in September 2022 by Igor J. Koralnik, MD, FAAN, estimates that as many as one-third of patients may experience persistent neurologic symptoms as part of a post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection syndrome, also known as long COVID. In addition to lingering symptoms of the virus, the most common neurologic manifestations include depression and anxiety, cognitive impairment, memory problems, a general feeling of brain fog, and dysautonomia, a disorder of the autonomic nervous system, which can cause a drop in blood pressure upon standing and a rapid pulse, among other symptoms."

As the human data sets grow – which is science talk for as populations continue to get infected and reinfected – new information highlights the systemic implications of a devastating and metastasizing vascular disease. At the same time, there continues to be a disastrous and metastasizing denial that Covid-19 exists, is dangerous, or has long-term consequences, and this denial and disavowal has impacted the politics of health care and the life chances of millions of people. Instead of an ideology of organized denial and rejection of social solidarity or political logics driven by profit, efficiency, and the freedom to consume (the planet), reconsidering the possible long-term social, economic, political, psychological, and planetary impacts of Covid-19 is really about who survives and who dies. We are back to considering that eugenics and statecraft have always been kindred spirits.

As Kovak writes,

"Even more troubling, new data suggest that long COVID may increase the risk of neurologic disorders, ranging from stroke and Alzheimer's disease to Parkinson's disease, according to a study by Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, director of the Clinical Epidemiology Center at Washington University in St. Louis, published in Nature Medicine in September."

Researchers are drawing on knowledge from studies on cancer patients, chemotherapy, and the effects of brain swelling on what is described as "brain fog," as well as aggregating data from existing studies across the globe. It is challenging to develop a regimen of care for a disease that is still evolving, yet there is no official clinical definition of the condition.

The long-term effects impact the meaning of living, life, and how life is lived for people with long-term Covid. The consequences affect families and communities. The results will also have long-term political and economic impacts that are paramount to recognize, accept and try to mitigate.

"As researchers learn more about how the virus affects people's lives months or even years after infection, they now recognize that these long-term effects can be persistent, widespread, and likely to clog the American health care system for years."

Click here for a list of Neurological clinics to treat long-Covid. Another valuable resource for information and support is Survivor Corps, "one of the largest grassroots movements, providing education and resources for COVID-19 patients, connecting them with medical and scientific research efforts, and helping with the national response."