Worldwide, mortality and hospitalization rates from COVID continue to decrease. But our success in mitigating the worst outcomes of the 33-month-old pandemic suggests a growing crisis.
More and more people are surviving COVID and not going to the hospital, but more and more people are also live with long-term symptoms of COVID. Tired. Heart problems. Stomach problems. Lung problems. The bewilderment. Symptoms can last for months, even a year or more after obvious infection.
That’s up from 19 percent in data The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in June.
Compare those numbers with recent COVID deaths and hospitalizations in the United States — three percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. Prolonged COVID is by far the most likely serious outcome from any new coronavirus infection. And can get more possibilities.
The CUNY study, which was not peer-reviewed, focused on adults in the US, but the results have global implications. Globally, long-term symptoms are part replace Covid-19 deaths. After all, more COVID survivors mean more people at risk of long-term symptoms. And long-term COVID will accumulate — people get sick and stay sick for a while.
Epidemiologist Denis Nash, lead author of the CUNY study, told The Daily Beast: “Despite the increasing level of protection against long-term COVID by vaccination, it is possible that the total number of people with long-term COVID-19 in the US is increasing. That is, every day there are more people Catch it Longer COVID recuperate from long COVID.
But understand long COVID, say nothing about prevent it is not a priority in the global epidemiological basis. That needs to change, Nash said. “I believe it has been a long time since the focus on COVID is long beyond preventing hospitalizations and deaths.”
In recent weeks, authorities have recorded about half a million new COVID cases every day, worldwide. This is not as low as the 400,000 new cases per day that health authorities counted during the largest drop in case rates in February 2021. But it is over.
What really Still, it’s remarkable how deadly a COVID-19 infection can last for half a million days. Recently, only 1,700 people died a day — that’s a fifth of the daily deaths last February, when the number of new infections per day was only slightly larger.
Hospitalizations for severe COVID cases also decreased. Global statistics are not available, but in the United States, the number of COVID hospitalizations dropped from 15,000 a day 19 months ago to just 3,700 a day.
It is not difficult to explain the decrease in mortality and hospitalization. Worldwide, about two-thirds of adults are at least partially vaccinated. Billions of people also have antibodies from past infections they’ve survived. Every antibody helps to eliminate the absolute worst outcomes.
“It’s certainly worth saving lives, but quality of life is just as important.“
But rates of long-term COVID appear to be on the rise. The high rate of reinfection may be one reason. Currently, one in six people contract the virus more than once. A team of scientists at the University of Washington School of Medicine and the U.S. Veterans Administration’s Saint Louis Health Care System said: concluded in a study this summer. The more re-infections, the longer the COVID.
Gathering numbers from July, Nash’s team concluded that 7% of all American adults — more than 18 million people — had long since had COVID at the time. If the same rates were applied worldwide — and there’s no reason to believe it didn’t — then global uploads for long COVID could have exceeded 560 million this summer.
That number is probably much higher now, considering the summer spike in BA.5 infections — a million new cases worldwide every day in July.
One thing that surprised Nash and his teammates was that the risk of COVID lingered unevenly in the population. The CUNY team found that young people and women were more likely to have long-term COVID. Nash said higher vaccination rates among older adults and seniors may explain this. But the latter remains a mystery. “Further research into these groups may provide some clues about risk factors,” he said.
Why there is a gender gap in COVID risk persists is just an unanswered question that scientists and health officials may be trying to answer. They may also be working on new vaccine strategies and special public health messages for long COVID.
But overall, they don’t do much to address the risk of long-term symptoms, Nash said. Nearly three years after the COVID pandemic, authorities are still extremely focused on preventing hospitalizations and deaths — and only prevent hospitalization and death.
Nash explains: “Concentrating exclusively on these outcomes could make a persistent COVID situation worse, as there is a significant amount of long-term COVID in people with only mild or severe SARS-CoV-2 infection. less severe.”
In that sense, prolonged COVID is a silent crisis. An issue that may affect more than half a billion people, but is not a primary focus of research or public health policy. Cindy Prins, a University of Florida epidemiologist, told The Daily Beast: “There is certainly value in saving lives, but quality of life is also important — and that may be lacking in people with Perennial COVID.
Of course, we are not powerless to contain long COVID. Similar tools can prevent possible COVID hospitalizations and deaths also reduce your chances of long-term symptoms — all by reducing your risk not at all COVID, short or long. Vaccination. Keep current on your boosters. Cover your face in crowded indoor spaces.
But with the evolution of SARS-CoV-2, prolonged COVID could become an increasingly bigger problem even for the most careful — and one that needs concrete solutions. The virus is still mutating. And every new variant or sub-variant tends to be more contagious than the previous one, which means more and more infections are breaking out when fully vaccinated and boosted.
If you’re currently up-to-date on your shots, the chances of COVID killing you or putting you in the hospital are very low. But the chance of it making you sick, potentially for a very long time, is substantial — and seems to be getting higher and higher.