Tuesday, April 9

New York wins the battle against omicron but faces another collateral damage from the pandemic: prolonged COVID-19

The Panamanian resident of Brooklyn, Alejandra Acosta, 55 years old, had mild symptoms of fever and headaches for just two days, after having tested positive for a routine COVID-19 test last October. To this day, she is still dealing with what she describes as the aftermath of the virus: “I was nervous and recurrent migraines, which without a doubt, I did not have before”.

As stated by Alejandra, a number of people that are very difficult to determine have had to undergo medical follow-ups and special tests, after overcoming the viral infection, but they are suspected of entering the group of patients suffering from a mysterious condition. called ‘prolonged COVID-19’.

“At first glance, my GP has told me that it could be the neurological effects that the virus leaves in some people. And unfortunately it happened to me. The doctors themselves know very little about this. Now the possibility that this will never go away makes me more nervous, “the New York resident reacted.

The answers to Alexandra’s anguish, neither does the scientific community yet: How long can the symptoms be? Which people are most vulnerable to long-term sequelae after contracting the virus? How do vaccines help? Who is more at risk?

In this sense, New York, after facing the fury of the pandemic and its different variants for two years, is now taking very seriously the challenge of having immediate responses to this other collateral damage of the public health crisis: prolonged COVID-19 cases.

In a nutshell, it is a series of physical and emotional symptoms that persist for months in some people who have been infected, regardless of whether their infection was mild or severe.

NY takes a first step

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Although science is still trying to understand what is really going on with these patients, this Thursday the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) took the first step by hosting the first extended COVID-19 educational symposium, at a time when which is already winning the battle against omicron.

“Since this virus first came to the country, New York was one of its first and most shocking stops. That’s why we already gathered the medical and scientific leadership to listen to their balances and experiences to consolidate a line of action to face this new phenomenon”, announced Dr. Mary T. Bassett, NYSDOH commissioner.

The New York health authorities have set out to unify a criterion that allows adequate clinical follow-up for hundreds of patients, who after being infected with COVID-19, have the heavy burden of living for months with a series of physical problems that range from from fatigue, pain, skin rashes to anxiety and depression.

In some cases they are completely new conditions, in other cases the aggravation of pre-existing mental and physical pathologies, which suddenly advance to other stages.

Mental health as a priority

In a virtual conference that brought together medical experts, scientists and hospital service providers from several states, the vast majority of participating specialists agreed that it is “too early” to understand in detail why some people, after overcoming the virus, show the appearance of clinical pictures that last for months.

On the panel of specialists was Zijian Chen, director of the Post-COVID-19 center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. His conclusion, supported by more than a dozen colleagues from different areas, is that there is hardly any “learning from patients and each case must be analyzed in a very individual way.

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In what there is a certain consensus, is that the issue of mental health derived from confinement and other social and emotional problems driven by the pandemic, is one of the lines of review that must be present at each diagnostic attempt.

“We have very often observed patients who had a history of depression, anxiety, or psychosis who after having faced the coronavirus began to suffer more severe conditions. At this moment, although there are no conclusions, we must always keep an eye on the issue of mental health,” Chen explained.

Based on a balance shown by the NYSDOH, symptoms associated with prolonged COVID-19 can vary widely, from cardiovascular symptoms such as heart palpitations to shortness of breath and excessive fatigue, and can include trouble concentrating and other psychological symptoms.

For its part, Vincent Marchello, medical director of Fidelis Care, pondered that at this moment the most complicated thing is trying to define who actually suffers from prolonged COVID-19 and how exactly to define it.

“The scientific challenge is to diagnose this condition as such. In the midst of the lockdown crisis, for example, we have seen many patients of all ages, who have a very compulsive desire to constantly wash their hands. Does this conduct fall within the scope of this phenomenon? , he asked himself.

In weeks NY will have an answer

While scientists are still working to understand this pandemic side effect, New York State is betting on bring together a wide range of health specialists and scientists to formulate an immediate and meaningful response in the coming weeks.

“We are collecting information and creating solutions to provide New Yorkers with the treatment, support and resources they need to recover,” said Governor Kathy Hochul, who at the same time celebrates that the winter wave of viral infection “Just like snow, it’s melting.”

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The state president reiterated that the number of positive cases was reduced by one 92 percent in about three weeks.

“It is hard to believe that on January 7 we had 90,000 positive cases in our state. Now they drop to 7,000. That’s an extraordinary drop.”, he highlighted.

Until this Wednesday the contagion curve throughout the state of New York flattened to 5.51% Of all the tests administered, in the Big Apple the infection rate is even lower: below 4% if the five counties are averaged.

What do the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say?

  • CDC continues to work to identify how common post-COVID conditions are, who is most likely to get them, and why some symptoms eventually improve for some people and they may last longer for others.
  • Rapid studies are underway, and others could take several years, to further investigate the aftermath of COVID-19.
  • These studies will help to better understand the conditions after this viral infection and how to treat patients with these long-term effects.

The data:

10% a 20% of people who were infected with COVID-19 would develop some long-term symptoms, according to some scientific analyzes published by Time Magazine. At present it is not clear How many patients of this type are there in the country?


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