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COVID-19 Survivors May Never Truly Recover, Scientists Say

The grim reality caused by COVID-19 in which live will only get worse, according to American scientists.

The world’s science community is still struggling to understand the full effects of health caused by the novel coronavirus. Infectious disease experts around the world are saying that there might severe consequences for those who survive COVID-19, even years after they make recovery.

This revelation combined with the possibility of contracting the virus multiple times sounds terrifying.

The virus has among its many effects debilitating shortness of breath, but the way it attacks organ systems can cause irreparable damage.

“We thought this was only a respiratory virus. Turns out, it goes after the pancreas. It goes after the heart. It goes after the liver, the brain, the kidney, and other organs. We didn’t appreciate that in the beginning,” said Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist, and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California.

Besides respiratory distress, patients suffering from COVID-19 can experience blood clotting disorders that can lead to strokes and extreme inflammation that attacks multiple organ systems. The virus can also cause neurological difficulties that can be as light as a headache or dizziness and loss of smell or taste, but also get severely complicated and lead to seizures.

The unfortunate reality is that recovery will take time and resources, and still might not be enough to completely shake it off, leading to a decrease in quality of life.

“The broad and diverse manifestations of COVID-19 are somewhat unique”, said Dr. Sadiya Khan, a cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.

“With influenza, people with underlying heart conditions are also at higher risk of complications”, Khan said. “What is surprising about this virus is the extent of the complications occurring outside the lungs.”

Khan believes that COVID-19 survivors will be burdened with an huge healthcare cost.

A Long Rehabilitation Period For Survivors

As a consequence of spending time on a ventilator or in intensive care unit, many survivors will have to take time to regain full mobility over their limbs due to muscle atrophy.

“It can take up to seven days for every one day that you’re hospitalized to recover that type of strength,” Kahn said. “It’s harder the older you are, and you may never get back to the same level of function.”

Although the majority of the focus has been on the minority of patients who suffered from heavy diseases, doctors are more looking to the needs of patients who were not sick enough to require hospitalization but are still suffering months after first becoming infected.

“Studies are just getting underway to understand the long-term effects of infection”, Jay Butler, deputy director of infectious diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters in a telephone briefing on Thursday.

“We hear anecdotal reports of people who have persistent fatigue, shortness of breath,” Butler said. “How long that will last is hard to say.”

“While coronavirus symptoms typically resolve in two or three weeks, an estimated 1 in 10 experience prolonged symptoms,” Dr. Helen Salisbury of the University of Oxford wrote in the British Medical Journal on Tuesday.

Salisbury said many of her patients have normal chest X-rays and no sign of inflammation, but they are still not back to normal.

“If you previously ran 5k three times a week and now feel breathless after a single flight of stairs, or if you cough incessantly and are too exhausted to return to work, then the fear that you may never regain your previous health is very real,” she wrote.

Dr. Igor Koralnik, chief of neuro-infectious diseases at Northwestern Medicine, reviewed current scientific literature and found about half of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had neurological complications, such as dizziness, decreased alertness, difficulty concentrating, disorders of smell and taste, seizures, strokes, weakness and muscle pain.

Koralnik, whose findings were published in the Annals of Neurology, has started an outpatient clinic for COVID-19 patients to study whether these neurological problems are temporary or permanent.

Kahn sees parallels with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Much of the early focus was on deaths.

“In recent years, we’ve been very focused on the cardiovascular complications of HIV survivorship,” Kahn said.

What Does This Mean For The World?

As of June 29, 2020, total number of cases worldwide is now above 10 million. To make matters worse, it appears that that number is only going to rise. With the current trends, it appears that on a worldwide scale, the daily number of cases appears to be going up. It’s discouraging that these numbers are getting larger and have firmly surpassed the numbers from March and April.

Despite seemingly entire world going into lockdown when the situation was milder, but now we’re opening up.

In places like Texas, there has already been a spike in new cases. And this might be a trend that gains momentum in the rest of the US and the world.

Quotes used from globalnews.ca.

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