Researchers are still trying to figure out why many Covid-19 patients have symptoms that recur over months.
In mid-March, Paul Garner suffered a “mild cough”. As a professor of infectious disease, Mr. Garner discussed corona virus with Mr. David Nabarro, the British pandemic special envoy at the World Health Organization (WHO). At the end of the call on Zoom, Mr. Nabarro advised Mr. Garner to go home immediately and isolate himself. Mr. Garner has followed the advice. However, Mr. Garner just felt “a little unwell”.
The following day, Mr. Garner had to fight a terrible infection. He described feeling “like being beaten” or “being hit on the head with a club”.
“The symptoms are extremely strange,” said Mr Garner. These include dehydration, a feeling of heaviness, discomfort, shortness of breath and a fast heartbeat. There was a time when Garner thought he was going to die.
Mr Garner called himself one of the “immune herd group of the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson”. This is a phrase referring to patients with Covid-19 infection in the 12 days before the British applied blockade.
Symptoms recur repeatedly
Garner said his illness would soon pass. Instead, the symptoms keep coming back and forth. He described his health and emotions as a roller coaster.
“I’m completely exhausted,” he wrote last week for the British Medical Journal.
There is increasing evidence that Covid-19 virus causes more symptoms than we know. And these symptoms may last. Mr. Garner has struggled with symptoms for more than seven weeks.
He suffered from headache, abdominal pain, tinnitus, body aches, shortness of breath, dizziness and arthritis in his hands. Every time Garner thought he had gotten better, the symptoms would appear.
“A lot of people start to doubt themselves,” he said. Their spouse wonders if they have anything psychologically wrong. ”
Since Mr. Garner’s article was published, he has received emails and teary phone calls from grateful readers he spoke out because they thought they were going crazy.
“I am a public health researcher,” he told the Guardian. “The virus certainly causes many immune changes in the body, many strange diseases we don’t understand. This is a new and annoying disease. No textbooks have been written about this disease yet ”.
According to the latest research, about one out of 20 Covid-19 patients experiences long-term repetitive symptoms. It is unclear whether the long term means two months, three months or longer.
Professor Tim Spector of King’s College London, estimates that a small number – but significantly – people are suffering from the lingering symptoms of the virus.
Mr. Spector is the head of the research team at King’s College London, which developed the Covid-19 tracking application. The app allows anyone who suspects they have a disease to update their symptoms daily. About 3 to 4 million people are using the app, mostly British and American.
Mr. Spector estimates that about 200,000 of them said they had symptoms that lasted over the six-week study period. So far, the British government does not collect information about people with “mild” symptoms in the community. These are symptoms of health decline and this group of people outnumbers those who get important care.
“These people are likely to return to work but not perform at their best,” Spector told the Guardian. “There is another aspect of the disease that goes unnoticed because of the thought, ‘if you’re not dead, you’re okay.'”
He added: “England is the country that creates epidemiology. They do not have any epidemiological studies other than the above application. What a shame. ”
The first understanding seems outdated
As more information became available, the original government model for Covid-19 seemed increasingly obsolete. Many Covid patients do not have a fever and cough. Instead, they have muscle aches, sore throat and headache. The app tracks 15 different types of symptoms along with their strength, weakness, and weakness.
“I studied 100 diseases. Covid -19 is the strangest disease I have ever seen in my career, ”Mr. Spector said.
The explanation for what is happening is still at an early stage. Lynne Turner-Stokes, a professor of rehabilitation medicine at King’s College London, said Covid-19 was a “multi-systemic” disease that could affect any organ.
It causes blood vessel problems and blood clots. The lungs, brain, skin, kidneys and nervous system may be affected. Neurological symptoms can range from mild (headache) to severe (confusion, delirium, coma).
Ms. Turner-Stokes said it is still unsure why the symptoms sometimes last so long. One explanation is that the body’s immune system is overloaded and reacts constantly. One explanation is that the symptoms are caused by viruses. Whatever the reason, Turner-Stokes said there was a “symptomatic regression” of Covid-19 infection.
Researchers are cooperating across borders. They check the latest data from European countries that outbreak before Britain such as Italy, Spain and China. They are trying to figure out what severe and chronic patients need support. Covid-19 actually posed similar challenges to HIV / AIDS in the previous generation.