Scientists may be one step closer to developing treatment options for long-term COVID after identifying 12 of the debilitating disease’s key symptoms.
“This study is an important step toward defining long COVID beyond any individual symptom,” said study author Dr. Leora Horwitz, co-principal investigator for the RECOVER Clinical Science Core, at NYU Langone Health.
“This approach – which may evolve over time – will serve as the basis for scientific discoveries and treatment designs,” she added.
Long COVID is the set of conditions that persist after a person has contracted the coronavirus.
The study published Thursday in JAMA found that long COVID was more common and more severe in study participants who were infected, unvaccinated or re-infected before the 2021 Omicron variant.
The study is being funded by the National Institutes of Health as part of the “RECOVER” initiative to understand why some people develop long-lasting symptoms after a COVID-19 infection.
Researchers examined data from 9,764 adults. In the group, 8,646 had COVID-19 and 1,118 did not.
More than 100 million Americans are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. An estimated 6% of those infected continue to experience long-term COVID.
“Americans living with COVID for a long time want to understand what is happening to their bodies,” said Dr. Rachel L. Levine, assistant secretary of health.
The symptoms are:
- post-exertional malaise (debilitating fatigue that gets worse after physical or mental activity)
- brain fog
- gastrointestinal symptoms
- problems with sexual desire or ability
- loss of smell or taste
- chronic cough
- abnormal movements