COVID-19 long haulers: Updated

Archive, Month, October

Many months into the pandemic, more is now known about long-term “long haul” COVID-19.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, patients and physicians alike have been dealing with the lingering effects and symptoms of a COVID-19 infection.

These are patients who, after recovering from a coronavirus infection and have tested negative, are continuing to experience COVID-19 symptoms. Dubbed long haulers, this condition can potentially affect multiple organs.

More than a year and a half into the pandemic, medical researchers have had many months to investigate many aspects of the virus and its effects on the body, which included thoroughly examining long hauler cases to determine its prevalence and severity.

Medical experts reviewed more than 250,000 recovered COVID-19 patients, publishing their findings in the Journal of American Medicine.

With more than a quarter-million patients, it was determined that 54 percent were still experiencing at least one symptom more than six months after their initial recovery.

Among those patients, the most common long haul symptoms were functional physical impairment (44 percent), muscle fatigue (37 percent) and difficulty concentrating (24 percent). Also, 62 percent were found to have chest abnormalities discovered after an imaging procedure.

They were also able to conclude that the more severe the case of COVID-19, the greater the likelihood that the patient will become a long hauler: 79 percent were hospitalized during their infection.

Vaccinated long haulers?

Since the nationwide vaccine program began, it was understood that, while still being highly effective, the vaccines do not offer 100 percent protection.

Infections are still possible for vaccinated people, but the likelihood of a breakthrough case developing severe symptoms requiring a hospitalization is rare.

This, in turn, makes the likelihood of developing into a vaccinated COVID-19 long hauler even more rare.

A recent study published in the Journal of American Medicine, nearly 1,500 fully vaccinated Israeli frontline healthcare workers were concluded to contain 39 breakthrough COVID-19 cases, which were described as mild cases or completely asymptomatic.

Six weeks later, only five workers were still experiencing any lingering effects of the infection.

Long hauler symptoms and more

The symptoms experienced by COVID-19 long haulers are similar to those commonly associated with the virus.
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle and/or joint pain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fever
  • Numbness/Pins-and-needles feeling
  • Changes in taste or smell

Other facts:

  • Mild COVID-19 symptoms are least likely to develop into long haul symptoms.
  • Long haulers can be any age — 13 percent are under age 11, 15 percent between 12-16.
  • Long haul symptoms can last for weeks or many months.
  • Patients are considered a long hauler if they’re still experiencing symptoms four weeks after their initial recovery.
  • Seniors are especially vulnerable to developing long haul symptoms.
  • Long haul status is based only on symptoms and cannot be confirmed by lab or imaging tests.



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