Long Term Symptoms Revisited
About 1.5 months ago, we reported on a BC local post-COVID-19 recovery clinic operating out of St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, the first of its kind in Canada (although one in Montreal is planned to open shortly). In the time since that post, additional data has come to light, providing a better view of what long term conditions exist for so-called “Long Haulers”.
At St. Paul’s post-COVID recovery clinic, there are now 160 patients who for the next two years, will be undergoing a series of extensive tests to try to determine why some people continue to experience long-term symptoms, well after they are no longer infectious.
Oxford University has also been investigating long-term symptoms in recovered COVID-19 patients, and recently reported data from a small study of 10 individuals previously hospitalized (but not requiring intensive care of external ventilation). The data confirmed that 8 of the 10 patients had persistent shortness of breath and tiredness even 3 months after official recovery. Utilizing a special MRI technique involving the inhalation of xenon gas, they were able to detect lung damage in these 8 patients, that previously went undetected after regular MRI scans. An expanded study of up to 100 patients is now being planned, with a focus on determining if lung damage is detectable in COVID-19 patients who were not hospitalized.
The above Oxford study is also part of a much larger project through the Post-HOSPitalization COVID-19 Study, or PHOSP-COVID Study as it is referred to. Overall the study hopes to recruit as many as 10,000 previously hospitalized COVID-19 patients across the UK and involves 20 different universities.
Another smaller study (that is also a part of the PHOSP-COVID Study) found that out of 58 COVID-19 patients who had been previously hospitalized for the disease, 64% experienced persistent breathlessness and 55% reported significant fatigue, even after 2-3 months. After a series of medical scans, most of the patients also showed organ damage, including lungs (60%), heart (26%), liver (10%) and kidneys (29%). The patients in this study ranged from being in their 40-60’s. The study also found that the extent of organ damage and fatigue correlated with indicators of ongoing inflammation, as well as the severity of their illness.
A similar but somewhat larger study of 128 hospital out-patients from Dublin found that after 6 weeks only 54 (42.2%) of the patients felt “back to their full health”, with the remaining 74 reporting continued fatigue symptoms. Interestingly, this study found no correlation between long term fatigue and the severity of illness, or inflammation markers.
Another group, Patient-Led Research, is doing a different kind of study on COVID-19 symptoms and recovery. They are conducting a wide-reaching survey, aimed at anyone who had currently or previously experienced symptoms consistent with COVID-19. If you would like to participate in their survey, you can find information about it here (it is available in a wide variety of language options as well). This is their second survey during the pandemic, if you would like to see the results from their initial survey, you can find the entire report on it here. It is quite long and contains a great deal of data. If you have or suspect you may have had COVID-19, we highly recommend taking a look to see how your symptoms compare.
As a final word on this topic, while there remains a lot of uncertainty about what may be causing the long-term symptoms in “Long Haulers” of COVID-19, there is one thing that remains a consistent finding in every study we’ve looked at (including many more not shown in this post): A surprisingly large number of people who contract COVID-19 end up with post-viral fatigue syndrome, with dramatic negative consequences to their quality of life.
COVID Denier Protest Organizers Now Being Fined
In what may be a first for BC, an organizer of a protest against public health measures in Salmon Arm has received a fine of $2000, plus an additional fine of $300. Previous protests in BC have had regular police presence, which often has focused on maintaining the peace, and attempting to inform the participants of health orders they are violating. It remains to be seen if this will become a trend, with more organizers being fined for inciting dangerous behaviour. With a health protest coming up this weekend at the Vancouver Art Gallery (we will not link to it), all eyes will be on the Vancouver Police to see what actions they decide to take.
The UK Approves Pfizer Vaccine for Use
In relatively breaking news, the UK has just announced that they have approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine for use, with vaccinations beginning as early as next week. The UK is the first country to approve this vaccine for use and is expecting to receive 800,000 doses in the coming days. The UK plans to inoculate care home residents and staff, people over 80 and other health and social care workers first, before broadening the availability in the coming year. From the start of the vaccination process, it will take about 5 weeks before a person will become immune to COVID-19, so protective health measures will be in effect for the foreseeable future.
While this news pertains specifically to the UK, it will likely give us a good idea of what to expect in Canada this coming January.
That’s all for now, stay safe everyone!