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Survivors struggle when scientists compete to solve the mystery of COVID

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There was no occasion to celebrate Rachel van Lear’s birthday. On the same day, a global epidemic was declared, and he developed symptoms of COVID-19. A year later, he is still waiting for them to disappear. And for the experts to come up with some answers.

The Texas woman is one of thousands of self-reported long-term carriers – patients with symptoms that slow down or develop after the blue months when they first became infected with the coronavirus. Hers first arrived on March 11, 2020.

The situation affects the uncertain number of survivors in a surprisingly varied way.

“We are faced with a mystery,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.

Is COVID-19 a specific condition or is it just a fluctuating syndrome that can occur after other infections? How many people were injured, how much does it cost? Is it a new form of chronic fatigue syndrome with similar symptoms?

Or some of the symptoms may not be related to COVID-19, but it was a physical response to the shocks of this past epidemic last year: blockades, quarantines, isolation, job losses, racial unrest, political turmoil, not to mention serious illness and death.

These are the questions scientists face when they look for disease markers, treatments, and treatments. With $ 1 billion from Congress, the Collins Agency is requesting research to track down at least 20,000 people who have had COVID-19.

“We have never really encountered such a post-infectious condition, so this is unprecedented,” Collins said Monday. “We have no time to waste.”

With an estimated 30 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, the impact of և 119 million cases can be shocking, even if only a small proportion of patients have long-term problems.

Fatigue, shortness of breath, insomnia, and poor thinking և Depression are among the many common symptoms. Organ damage, including pneumonia, has been reported. One of the scientists’ tasks is to determine whether the symptom is directly related to the virus or perhaps to some specific condition.

“Is it just a very delayed recovery, or is it something even more alarming, it just gets normal,” Collins said.

There are several working theories on what can cause persistent symptoms. One of them is that the virus remains at imperceptible levels in the body, yet it causes damage to tissues or organs. Or it may over-stimulate the immune system, preventing it from returning to normal. The third theory. Symptoms are delayed or recur when the virus attacks the blood vessels, causing minor blood deficiency և can cause damage throughout the body.

Some scientists believe that each of them can occur in different people.

Dr. Stephen Dix, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, said researchers must first establish a widely accepted definition of the syndrome. “The ratings are on the whole map, because no one defines it in the same way,” he said.

Deeks is leading a study that collects blood samples from volunteers that last up to two years.

Some people have long-term problems, even when their initial infections were silent. Dix noted that some evidence suggests that those who initially develop coronavirus infection may be more prone to persistent symptoms; women seem to develop them more than men, but these observations need to be confirmed. :

Van Lear says he was in great shape when he fell ill. At age 35, Austin, a suburban woman, had no other health problems; she was busy with the mother of three children, who exercised frequently. First came the cold of the chest, then the high fever. The flu test came back negative, so his doctor tested for COVID-19. Soon his blinding headaches, debilitating fatigue, and nausea became so severe that he needed urgent help.

“I was very scared because no one could tell me what was going to happen to me,” Van Lear said.

Over the next few months, the symptoms came and went. Burning lungs, palpitations, dizziness, hand tremors և hair loss. Although most of them are gone, he still has to deal with the occasional rapid heartbeat. Cardiac monitoring, blood work և other tests passed normally.

Fatigue, fever և tasteless և odor were the first symptoms of Carla Je Eperis after a positive test last March. Then came the fog of the brain, the insomnia, the unpleasant smell of the burning thing that had recently disappeared, and an intermittent ringing in his ears. Now he can not hear from the left ear.

Doctors do not find anything to explain it, he blushes when some doctors deny his symptoms.

“I understand that COVID is something we all live through, but don’t clean me up,” said Fff Efers, a 64-year-old Detroit retiree government employee.

As an African-American woman with diabetes and high blood pressure, she was in danger of a bad outcome; she knows she was lucky that her initial illness was not more serious. But his persistent symptoms and house arrest led him to become depressed.

The prevailing political and racial unrest in the news did not help, and church services, often his salvation, were suspended. He knows everything that could have contributed to his ill health, he says, listening to music – R&B, jazz – a small country, helped him to overcome the situation.

Still, ff ephemeris wants to know what role the virus has played.

“I’m a year, ‘from time to time I’ll still have a long lasting impact, I just do not understand that,” said ff efirs.

Ff իսferis և Van Leer is a member of Survivor Corps, one of several online support groups set up during the epidemic that have garnered thousands of members. Some are accepting studies to help speed up science.

Dr. Michael Sneller is leading a study at the NIH. So far 200 people have been registered; they include survivors և a healthy comparison group.

They are given a series of physical and mental tests once or twice a year for three years. Other tests look for signs of persistent inflammation, abnormal antibodies, or damage to blood vessels.

Sneller said he had not yet found any serious damage to his heart or lung tissue. He points out that many viruses can cause heartburn, even some cold viruses. Many recover, but in severe cases, the condition can lead to heart failure.

Fatigue is the most common symptom in the coronavirus group, so far researchers have not found a medical explanation. Insomnia is also common in both groups. Sneller says that’s not surprising.

“The whole epidemic and the blockade affected us all,” he said. “There is also great concern in the control group.”

Many people have symptoms similar to chronic illness syndrome. վիճ A condition that includes fatigue և Thinking difficulties that may develop after treatment for Lyme disease, a bacterial infection spread by certain lice.

Researchers are hopeful that long-term COVID-19 studies can provide answers to what causes these conditions.


Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner.


The Associated Press Health Science Department is supported by the Science Education Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The AP is solely responsible for all content.


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