A pandemic quickly swept the country after the introduction of COVID-19 in spring 2020.
The majority survived COVID. However, hundreds of thousands died from COVID. The American death toll now exceeds 1 million.
In spite of all the horror, there was initially hope that the severe effects of the disease would be reversed once the nearly 99% who survived were healed.
The promise of vaccinating the population by 2020 was to stop the pandemic. They didn’t. Although they were more deadly, new mutant strains were said to have less potential for spreading infection.
However, this was not the only problem.
Sometimes, however, the original symptoms, which can sometimes be frightening, linger after the acute phase and are associated with increased morbidity.
Two-and-a-half years ago, the pandemic erupted. There are likely to be more than 20,000,000 Americans still suffering from “long COVID”, a lesser acute but ultimately just as debilitating form.
Pessimistic analysis suggests that over 4 million Americans who were once active are now disabled by this pandemic, which is often overlooked.
Some symptoms may linger for up to 30% of the COVID-19-infected individuals six months to one year after their initial infection. They are physically sick and desperate to be well.
To treat COVID, there is no government Marshall program.
Although we are well versed in the virus’s nature, it is still not clear what causes COVID’s long-term symptoms such as flu-like symptoms, neurological impairment, cardiac and lung damage, severe fatigue, nausea, brain fog, vertigo, neuropathy, and other eerie signs.
Doctors have known for years that “post-viral fatigue” is a common condition. After the initial acute symptoms subside, many who have the flu or mononucleosis can take several weeks or even months before they feel better.
However, no one is able to explain why COVID can last longer and cause more disability.
It could be that SARS-CoV-2, a highly insidious engineered virus, is what causes its persistence. Are vaccines and antivirals merely meant to prevent infection? Or can they encourage more unpredictable mutations?
Who gets COVID long, and why? Winston Churchill once said that it was “a riddle wrapped in a mystery, within an enigma.”
Acute COVID-19 may lead to long-term COVID for those who are close to death. However, those who have only mild or no acute symptoms can still develop COVID.
Long COVID is more common in obese people with comorbidities than it is in marathoners and triathletes.
Long COVID can affect the elderly, middle-aged adults, children, adolescents, and pretty much any age. Long COVID is more common in those with a weak immune system or a downregulated one. However, those with strong allergies and up-regulated immune systems are more likely to be able to fight long COVID.
Although many Nobel Prizes are available to anyone who solves the mystery, it is unknown if anyone has ever deciphered its cause since early 2020.
Is a weaker but not defeated SARS-CoV-2 virus able to hide and linger, inflicting an unending immune response that sickens patients.
Is it possible that COVID-19 can cause old viruses to flare up suddenly, sickening the host, perhaps with mononucleosis, or long-term remission?
The Oder, is it autoimmunity that is the problem?
Is there anything unique about COVID-19? Does it cause the immune system to malfunction, and the body to send out unnecessary poisons to itself?
Researchers are not able to discover the cause of long COVID.
Is there a way to reduce the immune system’s immune response to lessen the immune storm or boost it to fight lingering infections?
Are more vaccines better or worsening long COVID?
Is there a magic new drug or a way to find other uses for old reliable medicines?
Is it possible to get COVID under control with good nutrition, moderate exercise, and patience? Is it too unpredictable, chronic, and near-permanent?
Is COVID long a singular phenomenon or a group of maladies that manifest according to genetic makeup, past illnesses, and individual reactions to the initial infection?
We don’t have all the answers but we do know what it will cost.
Long COVID might be one reason why labor is paradoxically scarce in recessions. Many people will remain at home, disbelieving that long-term COVID is still being fought. Some people isolate themselves in fear of contracting the chronic or acute form of the disease.
The social costs to America of this hidden pandemic in lost wages and productivity, family and work disruption, and expensive medical care are unknown.
But they are likely enormous, still growing — and mostly ignored.