Lengthy-haulers report signs easing after getting shot

An employee in Schwaz, Austria, creates a syringe and container with the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine.

JOHANN GRODER | AFP | Getty Images

Sheri Paulson struggled to get out of bed months after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

The 53-year-old North Dakota resident and family contracted the disease after attending a wedding in August. Paulson, an endurance athlete who runs a farm outside of Fargo, later suffered from fatigue, brain fog, and an increased heart rate, which led doctors to advise her to stop exercising and take cardiac rehabilitation.

It was about five days before she got her first Pfizer shot in February that made her feel better.

“Suddenly I stopped napping after cardiac rehabilitation,” said Paulson, who also has multiple sclerosis. “And then I started walking my dog. Then I thought, ‘Hmm, I think I’ll run a little too.'”

Some people who have had persistent and often debilitating symptoms months after their first battle with the virus say they find relief after vaccination, according to enigmatic health experts. Survivor Corps, a patient advocacy group for people with so-called long covid, recently surveyed nearly 900 members and found that 41% reported slight relief for full recovery shortly after the shot.

The World Health Organization estimates that around 1 in 10 Covid patients have persistent illness 12 weeks after the virus emerged. University of Washington researchers released data in February that showed a third of patients reported persistent symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, and difficulty sleeping that lasted for up to nine months.

Symptoms of long-term Covid, which researchers now refer to as post-acute consequences of Covid-19 or PASC, can develop well after the initial infection, and the severity can range from mild to incompetent, according to health officials and health experts.

One of largest global studies Released in early January, it found that many people who suffer from persistent illness after infection cannot return to work at full capacity six months later. The study interviewed more than 3,700 people aged 18 to 80 from 56 countries.

Diana Berrent, who founded the Survivor Corps a little over a year ago, suffered from long-term Covid for months before most of her symptoms went away on their own last year. She said some members of the organization were initially reluctant to get vaccinated. Members feared the reported side effects of the gunshots would make their symptoms worse, she said.

“We really expected the worst,” she told CNBC. “You could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out that some people were starting to get better because it was just so outside of what we expected.”

You are not alone. Facebook and Twitter are full of stories from people who testify, to their own surprise, that their symptoms are alleviated or even gone after receiving a Covid vaccine.

Not well understood

The cause of the persistent symptoms is not yet well understood by health professionals.

Most of the studies have focused in people with a serious or fatal illness, not people who have recovered but still report persistent side effects, the so-called long distance drivers. The virus is also relatively new – it was discovered a little over a year ago – so there are no long-term data on it.

The National Institutes of Health have started an initiative in February long to study Covid and identify the causes and possible treatments. NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said at the time that the researchers hope to understand the underlying biological cause of the persistent symptoms.

Doctors also don’t know why some long-term Covid patients say they feel better after being immunized. Experts say this could provide new insight into what’s behind the persistent symptoms, as well as potential new treatments.

Sheri Paulson with her dog Jazzy in North Dakota.

Courtesy Sheri Paulson

The virus reservoir

One theory, according to Yale immunologist Akiko Iwasaki, is that the vaccines help clear what is known as the “reservoir of virus,” where the virus may still linger in the body and cause chronic symptoms. The robust immune response induced by the vaccines can help clear any leftover viruses and clear symptoms, she said.

“That’s probably the easiest way,” she said, “the vaccines could help people.” “If that is the case, long covid will cure people and this is wonderful news.”

Iwasaki also hypothesized that Covid could cause an autoimmune disease in which immune cells mistakenly damage the body. If so, the vaccines could provide “temporary relief” of symptoms and patients may have to come back for another dose, she said.

There are no long-term data on how people feel after the vaccine, she said. “But I suspect that if the second [hypothesis] is true then there will be no lasting relief. “

The symptoms returned

Darren Brown, a 37-year-old physical therapist from the UK, said his symptoms returned a few weeks after receiving his first dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.

Brown suffered from fatigue, restless sleep, and incoordination for several months. He said his long Covid symptoms had completely improved about three weeks after his first shot. But just days before his second dose, he felt his symptoms return.

“I noticed that I was getting tired again,” he said. “The level I thought I could have pushed myself from, the threshold, it felt like it had been reduced and I was left with nothing afterwards in me.” Return to work. I just had to go to bed after a day at work. “

He’s been feeling better since his second dose, but fears his symptoms may come back.

“I’m very careful that this won’t last long,” he said. “But I’m also really overwhelmed with the excitement that it’s being lifted for now.”

Paulson, the North Dakota farmer, said she still had some symptoms but the fatigue and brain fog had gone since she got her second shot on March 18. She added that she was grateful that she was fine, especially since many others died from the disease.

“There are always things that put life into perspective for you and get you a little on your heels,” said Paulson, who also works for a Massachusetts-based biotech company.

Clinical trials

While the reports of long-term Covid symptom relief might be good news, they’re still just anecdotal, said Dr. Paul Offit, a voting member of the FDA’s Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biological Products.

There has yet to be a formal study to see if the vaccines actually help, he said.

Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, said he was skeptical but “open-minded”.

“This is an answerable question and I hope we have decent data to confirm or disprove it,” said Bogoch. “Otherwise it’s just a few collective anecdotes”

Iwasaki told CNBC that she plans to work with Survivor Corps to conduct a study to analyze blood samples from long Covid patients before and after vaccination. She said he hoped they can explain the relief some patients experience after vaccination.

The study is still in the planning stages, she said, adding, “We’re working very hard to get this off the ground.”

“I’ve received numerous emails and DMs on Twitter about patient experiences … and I hear from people every day who are better off getting the vaccine,” she said. “From my point of view, it looks encouraging.”

–CNBC’s Noah Higgins-Dunn contributed to this report.

Medical consultants attempt to set up ‘lengthy Covid’ analysis for sufferers with lasting signs

Some Covid-19 patients suffer from shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches and “brain fog” for months to almost a year after their first illness. Now global medical experts are working to better diagnose and treat what they tentatively refer to as “long covid”.

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization hosted a global meeting with “patients, clinicians and other stakeholders” to improve the agency’s understanding of the post-Covid medical condition, also known as Long Covid, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.

The meeting was the first of many to come. The goal will ultimately be to produce an “agreed clinical description” of the disease so that doctors can diagnose and treat patients effectively, he said. Given the number of people infected with the virus worldwide – nearly 108 million people as of Friday – Tedros warned that many of these persistent symptoms are likely to appear.

“This disease affects patients with severe and mild Covid-19,” Tedros said during a press conference at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva. “Part of the challenge is that long-term Covid patients can have a range of different symptoms that can be persistent or come and go.”

Limited dates

So far, there have been a limited number of studies that will determine what symptoms are most common and how long they might last. The main focus was on people with a serious or fatal illness, not people who have recovered but still report persistent side effects, sometimes referred to as “long distance riders”.

Most Covid patients are believed to recover only weeks after their initial diagnosis, but some have symptoms for six months or even almost a year, medical experts say.

One of the largest global studies on Long Covid Found published in early January that many people who suffer from persistent illness after infection cannot work full six months later. The study that was published on MedRxiv and not peer-reviewed, surveyed more than 3,700 people aged 18 to 80 from 56 countries to identify the symptoms.

The most common symptoms after six months were fatigue, post-exercise fatigue, and cognitive dysfunction, sometimes called brain fog.

Is that unique to Covid-19?

“We really don’t know what is causing these symptoms. That is a focus of research right now,” said Dr. Allison Navis, a professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, during a call to the Infectious Diseases Society of America on Friday.

“The question that arises is whether this is something that is unique to Covid itself – and it is the Covid virus that is causing these symptoms – or whether this could be part of a general post-viral syndrome,” Navis said, adding, that medical experts see similar long-term symptoms after other viral infections.

Another Study published in early January The Lancet medical journal examined 1,733 patients discharged from a hospital in Wuhan, China, between January and May last year. Of these patients, 76% reported at least one symptom six months after their first illness. The proportion was higher among women.

“We found that fatigue or muscle weakness, sleep disorders, and anxiety or depression were common even 6 months after symptoms appeared,” the researchers wrote in the study.

They found that symptoms reported months after a person was diagnosed with Covid-19 were consistent with data previously found in follow-up studies on severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), that is also a coronavirus.

Post-Covid clinics are going online

Some large medical centers are now creating Post-Covid clinics to care for patients with persistent symptoms. Navis said her clinic on Mount Sinai, New York treated a “fairly even” distribution of men and women with persistent illness, and the average age of patients was 40 years.

Dr. Kathleen Bell, a professor at the University of Texas’ Southwestern Medical Center, said her hospital’s long-term Covid-19 clinic began last April when a wave of infections hit Italy and New York at the start of the pandemic.

Bell said on the Infectious Diseases Society of America conference call on Friday that a number of professionals are required to staff the clinics because symptoms are uneven, including experts who can treat muscle weakness, heart-related disorders, and cognitive problems in the insane and health Problems after their diagnosis.

“It forces all of us, in many ways, to come together and make sure we have open lines of communication to address all of these issues for patients,” said Bell.

Bell added that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention held a phone call in January with long Covid centers across the country to discuss their model for treating patients.

“I think the CDC is now trying to bring centers together and get some firmer guidelines on it, which is very exciting,” said Bell.

– CNBCs Sam Meredith contributed to this report.

Lengthy-haul Covid signs needs to be a ‘wake-up name’ for younger folks, Texas Kids’s physician says

Around 10 to 30% of all Covid patients suffer from long-distance symptoms. Sinais Center for Aftercare. These numbers should be a “wake up call” for young people and motivate them to avoid infection, said Dr. Peter Hotez from Texas Children’s Hospital on CNBCs “The news with Shepard Smith. “

Patients with post-acute Covid syndrome typically suffer from severe fatigue, shortness of breath, digestive problems, “brain fog” and a racing heart. Some may even develop type 1 diabetes after contracting Covid, said Dr. Hotez. Endocrinologists are still trying to understand exactly why this is happening.

Another question that researchers still cannot answer is whether long-distance complaints will stay with Covid patients for the rest of their lives. Millions of Americans are already infected, according to Hotez, and those who experienced mild symptoms and were able to stay home to recover are most likely to have problems with post-acute Covid syndrome later, according to later research.

Of all the lingering effects of Covid, Hotez said to Smith, “The ones that worry me most are the cognitive deficits. We call it ‘brain fog’ which makes it sound like it’s not that serious, but it is. You know people have it. ” terrible difficulty concentrating and that’s why it was so devastating because it’s difficult for people to get back to work. “

The post-acute Covid syndrome will have a significant impact on the economy and the health system, said Hotez. Covid has a “severe psychiatric burden”, even for people who were not infected. They can suffer from “post-traumatic stress” from losing a loved one, earning a living, or simply dealing with pandemic living conditions.

“As horrific as the deaths are and as heartbreaking as the deaths, this will be just one of many pieces of Covid-19 that will be with us. It’s also a wake-up call for young people,” Hotez said.