LONG COVID

Almost two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, hundreds of millions of people around the world have been infected. Although most recover quickly, some do not. These patients experience persistent symptoms,  a condition now called Long Covid. It can affect people’s ability to work and carry on with life’s activities. To meet the challenges brought on by this emerging syndrome, the Long Covid initiative at the Brown University School of Public Health brings together researchers, clinicians, and experts in policy as well as strategic communications, to rapidly study and communicate the significant impact of Long Covid on people, communities, workplaces, healthcare, and society as a whole. 

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ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

  • What is Long Covid?

    Long Covid refers to the signs and symptoms that continue or develop after a person’s initial Covid-19 infection. As many as 30 to 50% of people who had Covid-19 report experiencing at least one symptom that lasts weeks or often even months after the initial infection. For people with more severe Covid-19 infections, up to 80% may experience new or ongoing symptoms. This is often referred to as Long Covid. Other names include “long haul covid”, “post-acute Covid-19 syndrome” and “persistent Covid symptoms”. 

  • What are the symptoms?

    Long Covid can cause a wide range of symptoms, lasting for different lengths of time, and varying in severity. For some, symptoms may be mild while others might become increasingly incapacitated. Symptoms may persist after initial infection, return after a period without symptoms, or emerge following an initial infection without symptoms. 

    Common symptoms of Long Covid are: 

    • Respiratory symptoms: fatigue, difficulty breathing, cough, chest pain, congestion, shortness of breath
    • Olfactory dysfunction: loss of taste, loss of smell
    • Gastrointestinal issues: diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting
    • Cognitive impairment: headaches, dizziness, loss of memory, brain fog
    • Mental health issues: anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders, eating disorders
    • Systemic symptoms: body aches, muscle pain, weakness
    • Other symptoms: loss of hearing, skin rashes, hair loss, acute kidney injury, impaired mobility, heart palpitations
  • How is it treated?

    The CDC recommends that people visit their primary care doctor if they experience new or ongoing symptoms four or more weeks after their COVID-19 diagnosis. Patients and their doctors may develop a plan to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Additionally, doctors may encourage patients to seek treatment at a rehabilitation center or post-Covid care clinic. Rehabilitation has been useful among elderly patients with Covid-19 for improving respiratory function, quality of life, and anxiety. 

  • How is society impacted?

    Among people with severe Covid-19, as many as 50-70% report impaired quality of life three to six months after hospitalization. Other reports suggest that some people with Long Covid may have to reduce their work hours or modify their duties due to persistent health issues. Additionally, financial hardships due to the initial COVID-19 infection may be compounded by new costs and lost income due to Long Covid.

WHO WE ARE

Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH

Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health

Megan Ranney, MD, MPH

Associate Dean, School of Public Health; Director, Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health; Associate Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice

Orestis Panagiotou, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Health Services, Policy and Practice

Laura Chambers, MPH, PhD

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Rhode Island Department of Health Consultant Medical Director and Brown Associate Professor of Medicine Philip Chan, MD and Stefanie Friedhoff, Professor of the Practice of Health Services, Policy and Practice and Content & Strategy Director, BSPH Dean’s Office, will serve as expert advisors. Other collaborators include:

  • Thomas Trikalinos, Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice, Director of the Center for Evidence Synthesis in Health
  • Alyssa Bilinski, Peterson Assistant Professor of Health Policy
  • Ian Saldanha, Assistant Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology
  • Gaelen Adam, Librarian, Senior Research Associate and Editor, Center for Evidence Synthesis in Health at Brown SPH

INSIGHTS FROM OUR EXPERTS

Dean Jha on CNN

Can breakthrough cases result in some of the terrible long-haul symptoms that were seen in “mild” cases in unvaccinated people?

Dean Jha speaks with India Today

India needs to study the implications of Long Covid

Dean Jha shares insights with USA Today

Breakthrough COVID-19 infections after vaccination can lead to long-haul symptoms, Israeli study shows

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