“Alarming” increase in number of Americans with long Covid symptoms | Long Covid

Some 6.8% of US adults are currently experiencing long-term Covid symptoms, according to a new survey from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), revealing an “alarming” increase in recent months even as the agency Health is easing Covid isolation recommendations, experts say.

That means about 17.6 million Americans could now be living with long Covid.

“This should set off alarm bells for a lot of people,” said David Putrino, Nash family director of the Cohen Center for Recovery From Complex Chronic Illness at Mount Sinai. “We’re really starting to see issues popping up more quickly than we expected.”

When the same survey was conducted in October, 5.3% of respondents had long-term Covid symptoms at that time.

The 1.5 percentage point increase comes after the second largest wave of infections in the United States this winter, as measured by available wastewater data.

More than three-quarters of people with long Covid currently say the illness limits their daily activities, and about one in five say it significantly affects their activities – an estimated 3.8 million Americans now suffer from long-term Covid. debilitating illness after Covid. infection.

A new study has found that thousands of people in the UK may be out of work due to long Covid. Americans have also missed work at higher rates since the pandemic began.

The rate of adults currently suffering from long Covid has not been this high since November 2022; the highest level since the CDC began tracking the disease was 7.6% in June and July 2022.

The “estimates represent only a snapshot in time,” making it difficult to identify the role of different factors such as recent surges, vaccination rates, new variants and survey methods, Dave said Daigle, CDC spokesperson.

The most recent household report investigation took place between January 9 and February 5 and asked respondents if their Covid symptoms were currently lasting three months or more. Since long Covid symptoms, by definition, appear or persist after infection, the rate could continue to rise in the coming months, even if infections decline from the winter peak.

The results of the next round of surveys are expected at the end of this month.

US health agencies define long Covid like symptoms lasting four weeks or more, so the rate under this definition may be even higher than that reported in this survey.

There are notable differences by geography, with the highest rates in North Dakota, Kentucky, West Virginia, Alaska, and Maine, and the lowest rates in Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming .

In total, 17.6% of American adults have already experienced long-term Covid symptoms, according to the survey.

Although children are not included in the CDC survey, they also suffer from long Covid, including fatigue, brain fog and headaches, as well as serious respiratory and cardiovascular problems, such as myocarditis . studies to show.

The increase in long Covid cases is particularly worrying because “we still don’t know everything that long Covid does, how it does it and why,” said Lara Jirmanus, a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School and member of the ‘association. the People’s CDC.

Ignoring Covid cases now is “a hubris that almost assumes we can see the future,” Jirmanus said. “No one knows how long Covid will be in five years. I don’t think it’s wise to throw caution to the wind.”

The survey results were released on February 22, more than a week before the CDC updated its Covid isolation. recommendations. The CDC indicates in these guidelines that “the prevalence of long Covid also appears to be decreasing,” contrary to the results of its own survey.

The agency’s advice to leave isolation once symptoms begin to improve goes against scientific evidence and will likely lead to greater spread of the virus and more cases of long Covid, the agency said. experts.

“This is very irresponsible advice, and it simply doesn’t follow the science. And that’s a shame because we rely on civil servants and government officials to interpret and present the science to us – that’s their job. And right now they are failing in their responsibilities to us,” Putrino said.

Although vaccines help reduce the risk of developing long Covid, the best way to prevent it is to avoid Covid, Putrino said — especially since repeated infections increase the likelihood of prolonged illness. “Every time you get a Covid infection, you put yourself at higher risk of developing long Covid.”

Those who already have long Covid may experience a resurgence or worsening of symptoms with new infections. A study found that 80% of patients reported their symptoms were more severe if reinfected.

There is no cure for long Covid, and funding for research into treatments and drugs has been slow to materialize.

Putrino said he expects long-term Covid rates to rise and fall with each surge, but the base rate could increase over time, which can have immense implications for health and well-being of Americans.

“All these cases that are happening without any protection from the government or any guidance from the government in terms of infection prevention – that has harmful consequences,” Putrino said.

And it is not yet clear whether the increase in the number of people suffering from long-term Covid has an upper limit or whether cases will continue to rise indefinitely.

“I find it very disturbing that these risks are not shared with the public,” he continued. “Allow people to make their own decisions, but give them all the information they need to make their own decisions. »

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