“From the start of the pandemic, patients and doctors alike have been frustrated by the sizable minority of coronavirus infections that turn into long Covid, a perplexing collection of lingering and often disabling symptoms that persist weeks, months or years after the initial infection subsides,” Corinne Purtill writes over at The Los Angeles Times. “The condition has been reported in both children and adults; in those who had preexisting conditions and those in robust health; in patients hospitalized with Covid-19 and those who experienced only mild symptoms during their initial infection. A new study from researchers at USC offers some insights into the prevalence of long Covid and suggests some early clues for who might be more likely to develop long-term symptoms. The study, published this month in Scientific Reports, found that 23% of people who had coronavirus infections between March 2020 and March 2021 were still reporting symptoms up to 12 weeks later. Researchers recruited roughly 8,000 people, some infected and some not, to answer biweekly questions about their overall health and Covid-19 status. …After filtering out respondents with symptoms such as headache and fatigue prior to infection as a result of unrelated conditions like seasonal allergies, the team found that nearly 1 in 4 Covid-19 sufferers were still grappling with symptoms 12 weeks after becoming infected. ‘These people are not able to do necessarily all the activities they would want to do, not able to fully work and take care of their families,’ said Eileen Crimmins, a demographer at USC’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and a coauthor of the study. ‘That’s an aspect of this disease that needs to be recognized, because it’s not really as benign as some people think,’ she said. … Several previous studies have identified women as being at greater risk. But the USC study found no relationship in its sample between long Covid and age, gender, race or pre-existing health conditions including cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. It did note a higher risk in patients who had obesity prior to infection. And it also spotted some associations between specific symptoms people experienced during their initial infection and the likelihood of developing long COVID. Patients who reported sore throats, headaches and, intriguingly, hair loss after testing positive were more likely to have lingering symptoms months later.” Corinne Purtill, “USC researchers identify symptoms associated with increased risk for long COVID,” Los Angeles Times.
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 ClearHealthCosts.
She was previously a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University School of Journalism. ClearHealthCosts has won grants from the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York; the International Women’s Media Foundation; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with KQED public radio in San Francisco and KPCC in Los Angeles; the Lenfest Foundation in Philadelphia for a partnership with The Philadelphia Inquirer; and the New York State Health Foundation for a partnership with WNYC public radio/Gothamist in New York; and other honors.
Her TED talk about fixing health costs has surpassed 2 million views.