Amid lack of guidance, COVID-19 long haulers spend thousands on unproven treatments

Nearly three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the medical community is still a long way from being able to effectively treat and diagnose the long lasting symptoms millions of Americans experience. In turn, many who are desperate to find relief are spending thousands of dollars on new remedies with little data to support their use, The Washington Post reported Nov. 25.

One woman who has experienced headaches since her COVID-19 infection in November 2020 told the Post she has tried "as many different things as anyone could do in my situation." Her treatment regimen has ranged from acupuncture and Botox, to nerve-block injections and vitamin infusions. 

Others have tried oxygen therapy and other costly options touted on social media. A man in Texas estimates he has spent $25,000 on treatments and over-the-counter supplements. 

"I can't figure out what research is being done, what treatments have been approved," he told the news outlet. 

The $1.15 billion Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery program — led by the National Institutes of Health — aims to identify the biological factors that cause long COVID-19 to inform treatments and prevent the condition. However, it could take years before clinical trials are complete for the safety and efficacy of potential treatments to be fully evaluated. For example, results from one trial focused on whether the antiviral Paxlovid could be used to treat long COVID-19 are not expected until 2024. 

Some researchers have argued for a more flexible government research model to address long COVID-19 patients' issues quicker, and prevent them from turning to unproven treatments that could potentially have negative health effects. 

"We're kind of stuck," Michelle Haddad, PhD,a neuropsychologist who runs a long-covid clinic at Emory Rehabilitation Hospital in Atlanta, told the Post. "I can define areas where you have impairments and how impaired you are. I can tell you what works in other, similar conditions. But I don’t have a magic pill."

Click here to read the full report. 


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