covid 19 4969084 640

New Study Suggests Underestimated Long COVID Cases 

08 Sep, 2023 F.J. Thomas

covid 19 4969084 640
                               

Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – In the face of increasing COVID cases, a new study led by Northwestern University suggests that we may have been grossly underestimating the numbers of people with Long COVID. 

According to data from the CDC, in the last week of August, the number of COVID related hospitalizations increased 15.7, and the number of deaths increased 17.6 percent. The CDC has been monitoring an increase that has occurred for 7 weeks, and some estimates are projected as high as 1,700 to 9,700 daily COVID hospital admissions by the end of September.

The two main variants currently raising concerns are the EG.5, or Eris variant, and the BA.2.86, or Pirola variant. The Eris variant is thought to not be a serious risk to the general public, however the virus has a mutation that does help it evade immune system antibodies that have occurred as a response to earlier variants or vaccines. That advantage could be trouble for those with chronic diseases or immune issues. 

Only 29 cases of Pirola have been identified so far, including cases in the UK, Europe, and several states in the US. However, the variant has more than 3 mutuations on the spike protein, which leads researchers to believe the variant could be more transmissible, cause more severe disease, and be more resistant to vaccines and treatment. 

The recent increase in COVID cases is concerning, especially given the devastating impact of the SARS-CoV-2 virus during, and even after the pandemic. While victims of COVID overcame the initial symptoms, many suffered ongoing side effects that eventually became known as Long COVID. 

Some of the symptoms of Long COVID include cognitive issues, headache, insomnia, dizziness, change in smell or taste, and depression or anxiety. As a result of the multitude of long term symptoms, estimates show that around 15 percent of unfilled jobs can be attributed to Long Covid, and around 25 percent of workers with Long COVID had to reduce their working hours. With an influx of new COVID cases, the potential overall impact of Long COVID could be devastating to the workplace. 

It’s estimated that around a third of those that contracted COVID developed Long COVID. However, a recent study published in Neurology: Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation speculates that number may be an underestimate, as previous studies have been largely based on patients who had a positive COVID test. The researchers pointed out that early in the pandemic, millions of Americans were exposed to the virus, but due to limited testing resources, they were not tested. 

The researchers measured immune responses in 29 patients that were suspected of a prior COVID infection but did not have a confirmed positive test. The patient symptoms included brain fog, cognitive impairment, headache, and fatigue. SARS-CoV-2–specific immune responses were found in 41 percent of the patients the researchers test. Seventy-five percent tested positive for Nucleocapsid-specific antibody or T-cell, and 50 percent for the anti-Spike antibody or T-cell responses.

While researchers concede that the study was small, they contend that the results easily suggest that there are at least 4 million with the post viral syndrome known as Long COVID. They hope that the results of the study will improve access and quality of care for those patients without a COVID test but with neurological symptoms of Long COVID.


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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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