Coronavirus cases: Research sheds light on an emerging parallel COVID epidemic amid new variant, lingering symptoms

LOS ANGELES — Because so many people have dealt with COVID-19 infections, many now see the virus like a common cold or flu.

New research suggests this is far from the truth.

As concerns about COVID subside, a parallel pandemic is looming.

“We’re still learning about the long-term health effects of COVID infections,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for the Los Angeles County.

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dr Michael Ghobrial of the Cleveland Clinic said they see it more often in younger patients.

This comes as doctors across the country are dealing with a growing number of patients who can’t shake off their initial COVID symptoms or who have developed new symptoms that last at least a month or more. Some cases have been running for two years.

“Some of the most commonly reported symptoms of long-COVID include fatigue, decreased exercise capacity, breathing problems, brain fog, and loss of taste or smell,” Ferrer said.

Various studies show that Long-COVID or Long Haulers Syndrome can occur in all population groups.

“It’s more common in women than men. It’s also more common in patients with comorbidities,” Ghobrial said.

In a study of several thousand veterans, Ferrer said the new evidence suggests repeat COVID infections increase the risk of long-distance syndrome.

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“Many of these disorders were serious and life-altering and included stroke, cognitive and memory disorders, and peripheral nervous system disorders,” she said. “The risk of developing long-term health problems was three times higher for those infected than for those who were not infected.”

Avoiding infection is key, and while COVID vaccines and boosters don’t always prevent infection, numerous studies show they can reduce the risk of a long COVID.

“Those who had two doses of vaccine before getting COVID had about a 75% lower chance of getting long COVID,” Ferrer said. “Whereas those who received three doses had an 84% reduced chance of long lasting COVID.”

While we still have a lot to learn, Ferrer said getting vaccinated and boosted seems like one of the easiest ways to significantly reduce your risk.

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