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What Experts Know About ‘Long Covid’ and Who Gets It

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WATCH: What causes symptoms of long Covid? Yale School of Medicine’s Prof. Akiko Iwasaki explains.Source: Quicktake
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Most people who suffer from Covid-19 fully recover. Millions of others find complete healing to be frustratingly elusive, in what’s often referred to as “long Covid.” Some experience extreme fatigue, shortness of breath and body aches, while others struggle with “brain fog” or haven’t regained their sense of smell or taste. A subset become gravely ill much later, likely because of complications from their infection. The picture that’s emerged from experience is that no single explanation, diagnosis or treatment can be applied to the growing group of people affected. Colloquially known as long-haulers, they reflect the pandemic’s lasting burden on societies and economies.

There’s no universally accepted definition yet. According to the World Health Organization, people with what it calls “post Covid-19 condition” have symptoms usually three months after an initial bout of Covid that last for at least two months and can’t be explained by an alternative diagnosis. Ailments may persist from the start of the illness or appear after the acute phase of the disease -- even in a person who displayed no symptoms initially. They may also fluctuate. Other groups have proposed alternative definitions. The U.K.’s National Health Service, for example, suggests referring to symptoms that last more than four weeks as “ongoing symptomatic Covid” and “post-Covid syndrome” if they persist for longer than 12 weeks and can’t be otherwise explained. Another definition may be needed for children