Dr. Fauci Identifies "Possible Cause" of Long COVID
The mystery of why some people suffer debilitating, incurable and forever-lasting symptoms after a COVID infection—even a mild one—has baffled scientists since "Long COVID" was first identified. An estimated 10 to 30% of those who got COVID, dubbed Long Haulers, have been affected. And it can and has happened to anyone—young and old, at risk or perfectly healthy. During a testimony before the Senate yesterday, to address the U.S. response to the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was asked about the current research into Long COVID causes and treatments. Read on to see what he said—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Dr. Fauci Said More Than a Billion Dollars Was Being Spent on Long COVID Research
At the hearing, Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, who himself has lingering symptoms after a COVID infection, asked, "What is the NIH doing right now, or what's the current status of NIH research, to better understand long COVID, to look at symptoms and potential treatments."
"There are several levels of activity going on," said Dr. Fauci. "Some news since we spoke last," said Dr. Fauci, "I had mentioned to you that in fact there was a $1.15 billion program for studying Long COVID that is now developing cohorts to look at various incidences, prevalences, pathogenesis, and potential interventions. There have been a number of awards that have been given—most recently in September, there was an additional $470 million funding supported through the American rescue plan, engaging about a hundred researchers from 30 institutions to get individuals together."
That research is ongoing and is in the very early stages. He said there was one possible breakthrough.
Dr. Fauci Said One Study Proposes Long Haulers Still Have "Fragments" of the Virus Generating an "Aberrant Response"
"One of the things that's really interesting," said Dr. Fauci, "that we're seeing right now is that when you look at individuals who have these symptoms that go on—as you know, and have experienced yourself—for a considerable period of time, a recent study that is in the pre-print stage—so it hasn't been peer reviewed—has some very interesting information that needs to be validated and verified. It was an autopsy study in people who had varying levels of COVID from relatively mildly symptomatic to moderately symptom individuals who actually died. And when they looked at the spread of what was not necessarily replication-competent virus, but was PCR-able virus, which means you could have nucleotides that were there, there was what seems to be a persistence in multiple organ systems indicating that even if you clear the virus, one of the possibilities—and I have to emphasize possibility, because it needs to be validated—is that you don't completely clear the fragments of the virus and you have continual stimulation. Not that you're infectious or that you're gonna infect anybody else, but that it is still generating perhaps an aberrant response in your immune system."
He concluded: "I underscore again, it's preliminary, it's in the preprint stage and it needs to be peer reviewed, but thus, some of the information we're starting to gather."
Dr. Fauci Has Said Omicron Can Result in Long COVID
Omicron has been described as "less severe" but "Long COVID can happen no matter what virus variant occurs," Dr. Fauci warned recently. "There's no evidence that there's any difference between Delta or Beta or now Omicron." "We should always be aware that when people get symptomatic infection … anywhere from 10 to up to 30 plus percent of people will go on to have persistence of symptoms," he added.
Long COVID Research Continues and It's Early Stages Still
No silver bullet for Long COVID has been discovered. Research is still in its early stages. "Something of this magnitude, affecting so many people on a consistent basis, this is something totally new for me and totally new for medicine," Dr. Greg Vanichkachorn, a physician at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, has said. "We are working toward identifying people with long-haul COVID symptoms because it is a growing population." He added: "The research in this area has really just focused on what long-haul COVID looks like across the patient population," Vanichkachorn said. "We really haven't done any research yet looking at outcomes or treatments with different medications and so forth."
What to Do if You Think You Have Long COVID
The news of any progress will come as a welcome development to Long Haulers. Millions suffer ongoing, crushing fatigue; migraines; "brain fog"; difficulty breathing or any number of more than 200 documented symptoms. If you feel you may have Long COVID, contact a medical professional. Although there is no cure, doctors can try to treat your symptoms, or refer you to a Post-COVID or Long COVID clinic in your area. And try to protect yourself from getting Long COVID in the first place; get vaccinated and boosted and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.