President Joe Biden said in April that prolonged Covid was a priority for his administration and ordered two reports: one laying out a research agenda for the country and one outlining the federally funded services and supports available to people in the US with Long covid. . A total of 14 government departments and agencies worked together to create these new long-term Covid plans.
“A national, US government-coordinated, action-oriented approach is urgently needed,” the report says.
The plan proposes a long-standing new office for Covid within the Department of Health and Human Services, but offers no specifics on how to fund or staff the office.
The plan also calls for further federal investment and asks the private sector to do more. It builds on existing government research with a view to accelerating and expanding it.
“These initial reports are an important step as HHS continues to accelerate research and programmatic support to address the consequences of the pandemic and work across sectors to ensure that no one is left behind as we continue to build a brighter future healthy,” says HHS.
Higher risks of serious problems for children
For the sake of their study, CDC researchers define prolonged Covid as involving symptoms four or more weeks after a Covid-19 diagnosis.
They used a large medical claims database to look for 15 long-term Covid conditions among 781,419 children and adolescents who had a confirmed case of Covid-19.
The study, published on Thursday, found that children with prolonged Covid had higher rates of an acute pulmonary embolism, or a blockage in the lungs that can cause sudden shortness of breath, anxiety, chest pain, palpitations and dizziness.
They also had a higher rate of potentially serious heart conditions such as myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle that can cause a fast or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue and body aches. They had a higher rate of cardiomyopathy, a condition that makes it difficult for the heart muscle to pump blood around the body and, in extreme cases, can lead to heart failure.
Children with prolonged Covid also had a higher chance of kidney failure and were more likely to develop type 1 diabetes.
All of these conditions are rare or uncommon in this age group, the CDC says.
Dr. Amy Edwards, associate medical director of pediatric infection control at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, said she has seen children with more severe symptoms such as myocarditis and cardiomyopathy, as well as some blood clotting problems.
“It’s nice to see evidence here that children experience prolonged symptoms of Covid,” said Edwards, who was not involved in the study.
Edwards would have liked researchers to distinguish between long-term Covid and MIS-C, a rare but serious condition that can also follow a case of Covid-19 and causes similar symptoms over the same period of time. But any study that raises awareness of the lingering Covid can help, she said.
Some patients have come to her after other doctors dismissed the seriousness of their symptoms, she said. And she worries about children whose caregivers don’t know how to get their children extra help from a doctor or Covid clinic that they may need to improve.
“Those are the kids that keep me up at night. I worry about those kids,” Edwards said.
CDC researchers say they hope their study will encourage caregivers to vaccinate children and watch for these serious symptoms and conditions among children who get Covid-19.
“Covid-19 prevention strategies, including vaccination for all eligible children and adolescents, are critical to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and subsequent illness, including post-Covid symptoms and conditions,” the study said.
12.7% of infections can lead to prolonged Covid
Another new long-term Covid study finds that 1 in 8 adults with Covid-19 may have symptoms months after initial infection.
The researchers surveyed 4,231 people who had Covid and 8,462 who did not. They screened participants 24 times between March 2020 and August 2021 and compared the two groups.
The researchers asked about 23 symptoms, and fatigue and shortness of breath were the most common. Many people also reported chest pain.
Limitations of the study include that it was conducted in the Netherlands and did not include an ethnically diverse population. Most of the data was collected before vaccines were available, and some studies suggest that vaccination may help protect against long-term Covid.
The research was also conducted before the dominance of the Omicron coronavirus variant, so it is unclear whether the results would be the same in people infected with later strains.
The researchers say scientists need to do more to determine how long Covid is and how many people get it, as well as how to treat or even prevent it.
“Research has been hampered by the lack of a consensus on the prevalence and nature of the post-Covid-19 condition,” the study says.
“There is an urgent need for empirical data informing the scale and scope of the problem to support the development of an adequate health care response.”