Scientists warn of long spike in U.S. COVID cases

Worldwide, death and hospitalization rates from COVID continue to decline. But our successful mitigation of the worst outcomes of the 33-month pandemic belies a growing crisis.

More and more people are surviving COVID and staying out of the hospital, but more and more people too living with long-term symptoms of COVID. fatigue Heart problems Stomach problems. Lung problems confusion Symptoms that can last for months or even a year or more after the infection disappears.

As many as 21 percent of Americans who caught the SARS-CoV-2 virus this summer ended up suffering from prolonged COVID starting four weeks after infection, according to a new study from the City University of New York.

That’s a 19 percent increase from the figures the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in June.

Compare these numbers to the recent US COVID death and hospitalization rates: three percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. Prolonged COVID is by far the most likely serious outcome of any novel coronavirus infection. And possibly increasingly likely.

The CUNY study, which is not yet peer-reviewed, focused on American adults, but the results have implications for the entire world. Globally, long-term symptoms are partial replacing Deaths from covid After all, more COVID survivors means more people at risk of long-term symptoms. And for a long time, COVID is cumulative: people get sick and to stay sick for a while

“Despite the increased level of protection against long-term COVID from vaccination, it may be that the total number of people with long-term COVID in the US is increasing,” said epidemiologist Denis Nash, lead author of the CUNY study, in The Daily Beast. In other words, more and more people every day to take long COVID that recover of long COVID.

But understanding long COVID, to say nothing of it to prevent this, is not a priority in the global epidemiological establishment. That has to change, Nash said. “I think it’s past time to focus on long-term COVID, as well as preventing hospitalizations and deaths.”

In recent weeks, authorities have recorded around half a million new cases of COVID per day worldwide. That’s not as low as the 400,000 new cases a day that health agencies counted during the biggest drop in case rates in February 2021. But it’s close.

What is really However, it is remarkable how few of these half a million daily COVID infections are fatal. Of late, only 1,700 people are dying each day, a fifth of the number who died each day in February last year, when the number of new infections each day was only slightly higher.

Hospitalizations for severe cases of COVID are also down. Global statistics aren’t available, but in the US, hospitalizations for COVID dropped from 15,000 a day 19 months ago to just 3,700 a day now.

It is not difficult to explain the decrease in death and hospitalization rates. Worldwide, about two-thirds of adults are at least partially vaccinated. Billions of people also have antibodies from past infections that they survived. Each antibody helps mitigate the worst outcomes.

Saving lives is certainly valuable, but quality of life is also very important.

But the incidence of long-term COVID appears to be increasing. The high reinfection rate could be one of the reasons. Currently, one in six people gets the virus more than once. Repeated infections carry a high risk of a whole host of problems that, not coincidentally, coincide with long-term COVID symptoms, a team of scientists from the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Care System concluded this summer. US Veterans Administration Health Center of Saint Louis. . The more reinfections, the longer the COVID.

Based on the July numbers, Nash’s team concluded that 7 percent of all American adults (that’s more than 18 million people) had long-term COVID at that time. If the same rate applies worldwide, and there’s no reason to believe it doesn’t, the long-term global caseload of COVID could have topped 560 million this summer.

That number is likely much higher now, given the summer surge in infections from BA.5: one million new cases worldwide per day in July.

One thing that surprised Nash and his colleagues is that the risk of long-term COVID is not uniform across the population. The CUNY team found that young people and women are more likely to catch COVID for a long time. Nash said the higher vaccination rate among older adults and the elderly could explain the former. But the latter remains a mystery. “Further study of these groups may provide some clues about risk factors,” he said.

Why there is a gender gap in long-term COVID risk is just one unanswered question that scientists and health officials might be trying to answer. They could also be developing new vaccine strategies and public health messages specifically for COVID in the long term.

But in general, they’re not doing much to address the risk of long-term symptoms, Nash said. Nearly three years into the COVID pandemic, authorities are still overwhelmingly focused on preventing hospitalizations and deaths, and not more prevent hospitalizations and deaths.

“Focusing exclusively on these results could worsen the long-term COVID situation,” Nash explained, “since there is a substantial amount of long-term COVID among people who have had only mild or less severe SARS-CoV-2 infections “.

In this sense, the long COVID is a silent crisis. One that potentially affects more than half a million people, but is not a major focus of public health research or policy. “It’s certainly valuable to save lives, but quality of life is also very important, and that can be lacking in people who have had COVID for a long time,” Cindy Prins, an epidemiologist at the University of Florida, told The Daily Beast.

We are not powerless to prevent long COVID, of course. The same tools that can prevent hospitalization and death from COVID can too reduce the likelihood of long-term symptoms, while reducing the possibility of none COVID, short or long. get vaccinated Keep up with your drivers. Mask yourself in crowded indoor spaces.

But given the trend in the evolution of SARS-CoV-2, long-term COVID could become a growing problem, even among the most well-cared for people, and one that calls for targeted solutions . The virus is still mutating. And each new variant or subvariant has tended to be more contagious than the last, meaning more and more breakthrough infections in those who are fully vaccinated and boosted.

If you are currently up to date with your shots, the chances of COVID killing you or putting you in the hospital are low. But the chances of it making you sick, potentially for a long time, are substantial, and apparently getting worse.

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