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US Reports Alarming Rise in Prolonged Covid Cases

Visual Representation for COVID-19 tests

United States: According to a recent survey from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 6.8% of American adults presently endure prolonged Covid symptoms, unveiling a “disturbing” escalation in recent months despite the health agency easing Covid isolation recommendations, as per experts’ observations.

This translates to an estimated 17.6 million Americans potentially grappling with prolonged Covid.

David Putrino, the Nash Family Director of the Cohen Center for Recovery From Complex Chronic Illness at Mount Sinai, remarked, “This ought to be sounding the alarm for numerous individuals. We are witnessing issues arise at a swifter pace than anticipated.”

During the prior survey in October, 5.3% of respondents experienced prolonged Covid symptoms.

The 1.5 percentage-point upsurge follows the second-largest surge of infections across the US this winter, gauged by available wastewater data.

Over three-quarters of those currently grappling with prolonged Covid assert that the ailment constrains their daily activities, with roughly one in five indicating a significant impact—an estimated 3.8 million Americans currently grappling with debilitating illness post-Covid infection.

A fresh study uncovered that numerous individuals in the UK might not be employed due to prolonged Covid. American absenteeism from work has also surged since the onset of the pandemic.

The prevalence of adults currently experiencing prolonged Covid has not reached this level since November 2022; the peak since CDC commenced tracking the ailment was 7.6% in June and July 2022.

Dave Daigle, a CDC spokesperson, noted that these “estimates offer merely a snapshot in time,” complicating the identification of the role of various factors such as recent surges, vaccination rates, new variants, and survey methodologies.

The latest Household Pulse survey, conducted between January 9 and February 5, inquired whether respondents’ Covid symptoms persisted for three months or more. Given that prolonged Covid symptoms manifest or persist post-infection, the rate may continue to climb in the ensuing months despite infections dwindling from the winter zenith.

Anticipate the subsequent survey results by month’s end.

US health authorities define prolonged Covid as symptoms persisting for four weeks or more, suggesting that the rate, by that definition, may surpass what is reported in this survey.

Geographical discrepancies abound, with the highest rates reported in North Dakota, Kentucky, West Virginia, Alaska, and Maine, and the lowest in Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming.

The survey found that a total of 17.6% of American adults have experienced prolonged Covid symptoms.

Though children are excluded from the CDC survey, they too endure prolonged Covid, exhibiting symptoms like fatigue, cognitive impairment, headaches, and serious respiratory and cardiovascular complications like myocarditis, as evidenced by studies.

The surge in prolonged Covid instances is particularly disconcerting as “we remain unaware of all the manifestations of prolonged Covid, its mechanisms, and causality,” remarked Lara Jirmanus, a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School and a member of the People’s CDC.

Disregarding current Covid cases reflects a “hubristic assumption that we possess foresight,” Jirmanus contended. “Nobody can predict the trajectory of prolonged Covid five years hence. It is unwise to abandon all prudence.”

Survey findings were disclosed on February 22, over a week before the CDC revised its Covid isolation guidelines. Despite its survey findings, the CDC guidance asserts that the “prevalence of prolonged Covid seems to be decreasing.”

Contrary to scientific evidence, adhering to the agency’s advice to end isolation once symptoms ameliorate is likely to exacerbate virus transmission and contribute to more instances of prolonged Covid, experts warned.

Putrino criticized the advice as “irresponsible” and divergent from scientific principles. He lamented the failure of public and government officials in interpreting and presenting scientific data accurately.

While vaccines mitigate the risk of prolonged Covid, the most effective prevention remains averting Covid infection, according to Putrino, particularly as repeat infections heighten the likelihood of protracted illness. “Each Covid infection elevates the risk of developing prolonged Covid.”

Individuals with prolonged Covid may witness a resurgence or worsening of symptoms upon new infections. A study revealed that 80% of patients reported exacerbation of symptoms upon reinfection.

Presently, there exists no remedy for prolonged Covid, and funding for research on treatments and medications has been sluggish.

Putrino anticipates fluctuations in prolonged Covid rates with each surge, but the baseline rate may surge over time, precipitating significant repercussions for Americans’ health and welfare.

“All these instances arising sans government protection and guidance on infection prevention are exacting a toll,” Putrino lamented.

It remains uncertain whether the surge in prolonged Covid cases possesses an upper threshold or will perpetually escalate.

“It deeply troubles me that these risks are not being disseminated to the public,” he added. “Furnish individuals with all pertinent information to enable informed decision-making.”

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