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Dr. Fauci Just Warned of Post-Acute COVID Syndrome

“The symptoms of this include fatigue, shortness of breath, sleep disorders, fevers, GI symptoms…”
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

There is good news, finally, for those "long haulers" suffering from the long-term effects of COVID, or what is now known as Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC). Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appeared at the White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing to announce that the National Institutes of Health is researching it, backed by $1.15 billion of funding. "I'm happy to say that yesterday, there was the first in what will be a series of research opportunity announcements released for NIH initiatives on this puzzling syndrome," he said. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

Dr. Fauci Described Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC) and Its Symptoms

Said Dr. Fauci: "The symptoms of this include fatigue, shortness of breath, sleep disorders, fevers, GI symptoms, anxiety, and depression, and what some have heard me referring to as 'brain fog' or an inability or a difficulty in concentrating or focusing. Remember these are post acute sequelae: After the virus essentially has been cleared from the body and actually new symptoms sometimes arise well after the time of infection or they evolve over time and they may persist…for months and can range from mild annoying to actually quite incapacitating. The magnitude of the problem is not yet fully known."

Dr. Fauci described a few studies that indicate the issue could affect a significant percentage of the population. "There have been a number of papers that have described in some detail"—he mentioned one "in China of 1,700 patients who actually had been hospitalized" but stressed that "you can get this post acute syndrome, even in individuals who did not require hospitalization. The six month followup showed a variety of signs and symptoms shown here with many having fatigue and weakness…sleep difficulties, anxiety, or depression, and the greater proportion of patients with more severe illness at impaired lung diffusion and capacity." 

A new study from the University of Washington found "something alarming" said Fauci—that "approximately 30% of the patients who were enrolled…reported persistent symptoms for as long as nine months after illness. Fatigue was the most common reported symptom and persistent symptoms were reported by one third of our patients with mild disease."

RELATED: 10 COVID Symptoms You Haven't Heard About

Dr. Fauci Discussed Possibilities for Treatment

Fauci's inter-agency group—including the NIH, the CDC and others—met in December with "experts in all of these areas, cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, neurologic, immunologic, and pediatrics, to scope out the kinds of things that we would need to be looking at with this puzzling syndrome." 

There is no cure for Long COVID. Dr. Fauci was asked if he "could tell us just a little bit more about, and it's early, but what the epidemic of Long COVID might look like even beyond the pandemic and how worried you are about that. And if you're seeing any early work going on in trying to develop sort of therapeutics or other ways of addressing it?"

"That's a very important question about what we can do about it, and that's the reason why we are creating these cohorts and we're looking at what might possibly be hints at pathogenesis," said Fauci. "It's very difficult to treat something when you don't know what the target of the treatment is. And that's the reason why it's extremely important to take a look at these individuals, not only the scope of this and not only the depth and breadth of the symptoms, but also to try and have some correlate that actually is a pathophysiological correlate. Once we get that—and an important part of this would be to design therapeutic approaches, hopefully by medications that we already have. We just need to know how to use them."

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said When We'd Get Back to Normal

How to Not Get Long COVID

Follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, 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.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more