a woman coughs on her couch

“David Putrino, a rehabilitation and long Covid researcher at the Mount Sinai medical school in New York City, has watched mounting evidence that suggests between 4 and 36 percent of Americans infected with Covid have symptoms lasting at least six months,” Keren Landman wrote about Long Covid experts over at Vox. “It makes him nervous, and not just for the patients dealing with the long-term symptoms. He’s nervous because as the pandemic outbreak continues, many more people will be put at risk for long-term disability as the virus continues to spread. Meanwhile, policymakers don’t seem to be accounting for the risk of long Covid in public health recommendations. The condition did not figure into the C.D.C.’s guidance on removing or reinstating preventive measures — those were based on deaths and intensive care unit hospitalizations. ‘I don’t think that policy has been based on fact,’ Putrino said, regarding the lifting of preventive measures nationwide. ‘I think that policy is being based on hope.’ The potential stakes of long Covid are high. But there’s a key tension here: Much about the condition remains veiled in mystery. Basic questions — like what long Covid even is — remain unanswered. And those mysteries make it easier for policymakers to turn a blind eye to it. ‘Even in the most basic ways, we can’t agree on a definition of this,’ said Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist and scientist at Yale University who collaborates with Survivor Corps, a long Covid research group. There is no consensus among scientists on what exactly long Covid is, which makes it difficult to count the people affected by it and to understand its risk factors. Even among those making good-faith efforts to create balanced public health policies, that knowledge vacuum means many don’t take the threat of long Covid very seriously — a grave error, Putrino said. If projections are correct, the long-term outcomes of Covid will leave hundreds of millions of people worldwide with chronic symptoms and many people with disabling conditions. And in the U.S., public health policy will have done very little to reduce long Covid’s impact. Despite that threat, the administrative burdens, scientific risks, and generally tricky nature of studying new diseases mean it will be some time before the most basic questions about long Covid are answered.” Keren Landman, “What experts wish they knew about long Covid,” Vox.

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...