Long COVID, long haulers, post-COVID syndrome, post-acute sequelae of COVID — from the early days of the pandemic — there have been news stories about people who don’t recover from the virus in 10 to 14 days. Instead, they are still ill weeks or months after their original infection and more than two years on, and no one completely understands why.
The uncertainty, combined with the millions affected, makes long COVID a trendy (but crucial) topic for health journalists to cover.
In a panel at Health Journalism 2022 in Austin moderated by independent journalist Margaret Nicklas, two physicians and two long COVID researchers presented a primer on what we know about the condition and what remains a mystery.
The physicians’ perspective
Michael Brode, M.D., internal medicine specialist at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School and medical director of UT Health Austin’s Post-COVID-19 Program, sees the symptoms of patients with long COVID as fitting into three categories:
- Damage from the virus itself (usually correlated with the severity of the disease).
- Post-viral lingering symptoms such as cough or chest pain.
- Dysregulated post-immune response and neuroinflammatory syndrome.