NIH to study 'Long COVID'

The National Institutes of Health will lead a major research program focused on identifying what causes prolonged COVID-19 symptoms after the infection has cleared, now widely known as 'Long COVID,' and on the development of methods to treat or prevent the problems, the agency announced Feb. 23. 

"We do not know yet the magnitude of the problem, but given the number of individuals of all ages who have been or will be infected with SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the public health impact could be profound," said Francis Collins, MD, PhD, director of the NIH. 

The initial questions the research will consider are: 

  • What does the spectrum of recovery from SARS-CoV-2 infection look like across the population?
  • How many people continue to have symptoms of COVID-19, or even develop new symptoms, after infection?
  • What is the underlying biological cause of these prolonged symptoms?
  • What makes some people vulnerable to this but not others?
  • Does SARS-CoV-2 infection trigger changes in the body that increase the risk of other conditions, such as chronic heart or brain disorders?

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