Long Covid is a bigger problem than we thought

The long Covid problem might be bigger than we thought.

large study has revealed that one in three Covid-19 survivors have suffered symptoms three to six months after getting infected, with breathing problems, abdominal symptoms such as abdominal pain, change of bowel habit and diarrhoea, fatigue, pain, anxiety and depression among the most common issues reported.

Researchers at the University of Oxford, the National Institute for Health Research and the Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre studied symptoms in more than 270,000 people recovering from Covid-19 and found that the nine features of long Covid were detected by clinicians more frequently in those who had been hospitalized, and slightly more often in women.

But Dr. Max Taquet, National Institute for Health Research academic clinical fellow and one of the authors of the study, said the results show long Covid affects a significant proportion of people of all ages. “We need appropriately configured services to deal with the current and future clinical need,” he said.

The study did not explain what causes long Covid symptoms, how severe they are or how long they will last, but it did show that people recovering from Covid were more likely to suffer long-term symptoms than those who had the flu.

Dr. Amitava Banerjee, a professor of clinical data science at University College London who was not involved in the study, said this finding is “yet another arrow in the quiver against bogus ‘this is just like flu’ claims.”

The symptoms people experienced varied, and many patients experienced more than one. Older people and men were more likely to have breathing difficulties and cognitive problems, whereas young people and women reported more headaches, abdominal symptoms, anxiety and depression.

The authors stressed that although the number of such incidents was higher among the elderly and those with more severe initial illness, people who had suffered a mild disease, children and young adults also experienced long Covid.

The accompanying data showed that as many as 46% of children and young adults between the ages of 10 and 22 had experienced at least one symptom in the six months after recovering.

This risk of long Covid highlights why is it so important to protect children and young people from the coronavirus, even though the study said most don’t suffer from severe illness.

Cases among children have been soaring in the US since the more contagious Delta coronavirus variant became the country’s dominant strain in July. The American Academy of Pediatrics reported 206,864 weekly cases among children on Monday. That was a slight decline compared to the previous week, but a 188% increase since the week of July 22.

The data comes as Pfizer/BioNTech said Tuesday that they had begun submitting vaccine data on children aged 5 to 11 to the US Food and Drug Administration for review, and expect to submit a request for emergency use authorization in the coming weeks.

The next key question is whether parents will want to get their kids vaccinated. Parents of 5-to-11-year-olds are split on the issue, with 44% saying they are likely to do so and 42% saying they are unlikely to, according to poll results from Axios-Ipsos published Tuesday.

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.

Q: What is the best time to get flu and Covid shots this year?

A: It is “perfectly fine” to get both shots in one visit, White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN.

Fauci said people should get the vaccines as soon as they can, whatever it takes. “If that means getting the flu shot in one arm and the Covid shot in the other, there is nothing wrong with that,” he added.

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Turkmenistan claims it hasn’t had a single Covid-19 case. Activists say that’s a lie

Turkmenistan has not seen a single case of Covid-19 since the pandemic began, according to its authoritarian government.

The central Asian country is one of at least five states that have not reported any coronavirus cases, according to a review by Johns Hopkins University and the World Health Organization.

Three of those are isolated islands in the Pacific and the fourth is North Korea, CNN’s Ben Westcott reports.

Independent organizations and activists outside Turkmenistan say there is evidence the country is battling a third wave, but President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov is thought to be playing down the threat of Covid in order to maintain his public image.

Diana Serebryannik, director of Rights and Freedoms of Turkmenistan Citizens, an exile group, said the organization’s contacts in the country said hospitals were struggling to cope with a rise in cases.

According to Serebryannik, the official cause of death in these cases is not listed as Covid-19 or pneumonia — instead medical certificates record separate conditions, such as a heart attack.

Here’s what to expect when the US opens its borders

The United States is set to ease travel restrictions on all fully vaccinated foreign visitors starting November, but the traveling experience is expected to be vastly different compared to the pre-pandemic times, Blane Bachelor reports.

Travelers will be required to show proof of vaccination and a negative test taken within three days prior to the trip. But they should also be prepared to navigate shifting — and confusing — health regulations and protocols that differ from state to state.

Prices are expected to rise for tourists, and there will likely be staffing shortages due to Covid. So, no matter where they’re headed, travelers must stay as flexible and informed as possible.

Here’s how other governments are tackling low vaccine uptake

Most European countries have Covid-19 vaccination rates that would be the envy of much of the world. But even in these, hesitancy in certain areas is causing governments to take action — or risk stalling their efforts to control the spread of the virus.

In Germany, vaccines remain voluntary, but authorities have been stepping up measures that make life increasingly inconvenient for those who haven’t been inoculated. The German Health Ministry has announced new rules that mean unvaccinated workers will no longer receive compensation for lost pay if coronavirus measures forced them into quarantine.

Meanwhile, France and Italy have introduced mandatory Covid health passes for entry to premises including bars, restaurants, cinemas, theaters, and many other public spaces. The passes show proof of vaccination, a negative Covid-19 test or of past infection.

TOP TIP

Encourage your teens to get vaccinated

The Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine has been made available for people aged 12 and over, but teens remain the least vaccinated of any eligible age group in the United States. Only 46% of 12-to-17-year-olds in the US are fully vaccinated, according to a CNN analysis of data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There is still a misconception that the disease only affects the elderly and vulnerable, but evidence has shown this is false.

Talk to your teens about the benefits of getting the vaccine and explain that while they are far less likely than adults to suffer serious disease or to die from Covid-19, they can still catch it and pass it on.

LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST

Covid-19 taught the world a tough lesson: If we aren’t prepared for a viral threat, the consequences can be catastrophic. But what does it mean to be truly prepared? The question feels more urgent now that public health officials warn that many of us may experience another pandemic in our lifetimes. Dr. Sanjay Gupta turns to former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who anticipated our current crisis, for specific recommendations on how to prevent the next one. Listen to that episode here.

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