A recent article in Chemical & Engineering News (Sept 11, 2023) called upon the experiences of Hannah Davies, a 32-year-old who has had to stop working at her job in the field of machine learning and generative model due to Long Covid.
“A phone that doesn’t hold a charge” is how Davis describes how she feels. “Keep plugging it in and keep plugging it in, and then it’ll just last 20 minutes.”
The article defines Long COVID as lingering symptoms that persist for weeks or months after the initial COVID-19 illness. Common symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, headaches, and shortness of breath. The causes of long COVID are still unknown, but leading theories suggest it may be related to immune dysregulation, inflammation, or residual virus remaining in the body. Estimates suggest 10-30% of COVID-19 patients develop long COVID, meaning millions could be affected worldwide. Treatments are still experimental and focus on anti-inflammatories, antivirals, improving oxygen delivery, cognitive and physical rehabilitation, etc. More research is urgently needed. Understanding long COVID may provide clues about other post-viral syndromes like chronic fatigue syndrome. Some researchers suggest long COVID could be not one illness, but a collection of post-viral syndromes with different underlying causes.
Long COVID is a major public health issue with unclear causes and few proven treatments so far. Significant research is underway to better understand and treat this collection of lingering symptoms after COVID-19 illness.
As disruptive as her long COVID is, Davis hasn’t looked back, and she is taking charge of her own fate. Just months after the start of the pandemic, she and others with long COVID founded the Patient-Led Research Collaborative, an advocacy and research organization that seeks to accelerate new findings on long COVID and spread awareness about the latest treatment options.