As the Delta variant of COVID-19 has led to a resurgence in new infections across the world, reports suggest that between 10 and 30 percent of all COVID-19 patients are likely to suffer from another form of long-term symptoms.
Long COVID is when patients suffer from symptoms over a long period of time. Symptoms can persist for longer than a year in some cases and can often be debilitating.
“Even if it’s not as striking as people dying, you ignore it at your peril. In terms of healthcare burden or healthcare cost, we’re on track for this being as big a problem to us as rheumatoid arthritis, the biggest autoimmune disease in the world,” said Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, told The Wall Street Journal.
COVID-19 cases are surging globally and experts suggest that the spike may lead to a large number of people getting affected by long COVID.
Common symptoms of long COVID include difficulty in maintaining concentration, fatigue, shortness of breath, memory loss,, and sometimes even a persistent loss of smell. A Lancet study associated a total of over 200 symptoms with the disease.
A recent study conducted in the UK found that potentially two million individuals in the country could be suffering from long COVID symptoms. “Estimates ranged from 5.8% of the population experiencing one or more persistent symptoms post-COVID-19 (corresponding to over 2 million adults in England), to 2.2% for three or more persistent symptoms (just under a million adults in England),” the researchers noted.
The mechanisms and pathways of long COVID are not yet understood but the point to the fact is that the deadly disease is not an infection that targets just the respiratory system.
While more research is needed, there are hopes that soon a diagnosing test may be available to check whether patients suffer from long COVID or not.
Altmann's research team in the Imperial College is part of the study to develop a diagnosable test for long COVID. The researcher was confident that such a test can be developed within the next 6 months.
(Edited by : Kanishka Sarkar)
First Published: IST