Scientists have warned that covid-19 causes a far wider range of health
problems than previously thought and that victims may never fully
recover from its debilitating effects.
According to them, covid-19 does not just cause a wide range of symptoms, the symptoms last for a longer timespan.
“We thought this was only a respiratory virus. Turns out, it goes after
the pancreas. It goes after the heart. It goes after the liver, the
brain, the kidney and other organs. We didn’t appreciate that in the
beginning,” Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and director of the Scripps
Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California told Reuters.
Covid-19 patients can suffer from blood clotting disorders, leading to
strokes, and extreme inflammation that attacks multiple organ systems,
while also attacking the brain, with headaches, dizziness, and loss or
taste and smell all symptoms of the virus in addition to respiratory
The recovery from all of these symptoms can be very slow and costly, incurring a huge impact on quality of life.
“If you previously ran 5k three times a week and now feel breathless
after a single flight of stairs, or if you cough incessantly and are too
exhausted to return to work, then the fear that you may never regain
your previous health is very real,” Dr. Helen Salisbury of the
University of Oxford wrote in the British Medical Journal last week.
The coronavirus was originally identified as primarily a respiratory
disease that leaves patients struggling to breath, with ventilators
becoming a crucial tool in keeping those alive.
However, as Covid-19 has spread around the world, experts identified it
attacks organs throughout the body, causing potentially catastrophic
The broad and diverse manifestations of Covid-19 are somewhat unique,
said Dr. Sadiya Khan, a cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago
With influenza, people with underlying heart conditions are also at
higher risk of complications, Khan said. What is surprising about this
virus is the extent of the complications occurring outside the lungs.
Khan believes there will be a huge healthcare expenditure and burden for individuals who have survived COVID-19.
Patients who were in the intensive care unit or on a ventilator for
weeks will need to spend extensive time in rehab to regain mobility and
strength, say doctors.
“It can take up to seven days for every one day that you’re hospitalized
to recover that type of strength,” Khan said. “It’s harder the older
you are, and you may never get back to the same level of function.”
While much of the focus has been on the minority of patients who
experience severe disease, doctors increasingly are looking to help
patients who were not sick enough to require hospitalisation, but are
suffering months after first becoming infected.
Studies are just getting underway to understand the long-term effects of
infection, Jay Butler, deputy director of infectious diseases at the US
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters in a
telephone briefing on Thursday.
“We hear anecdotal reports of people who have persistent fatigue, shortness of breath,” Butler said.
“How long that will last is hard to say.”
While coronavirus symptoms typically resolve in two or three weeks, an
estimated 1 in 10 experience prolonged symptoms, Helen Salisbury wrote
Dr. Igor Koralnik, chief of neuro-infectious diseases at Northwestern
Medicine, reviewed current scientific literature and found about half of
patients hospitalised with Covid-19 had neurological complications,
such as dizziness, decreased alertness, difficulty concentrating,
disorders of smell and taste, seizures, strokes, weakness and muscle
Koralnik, whose findings were published in the Annals of Neurology, has
started an outpatient clinic for Covid-19 patients to study whether
these neurological problems are temporary or permanent.
Khan sees parallels with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Much of the early focus was on deaths.
“In recent years, we’ve been very focused on the cardiovascular complications of HIV survivorship,” Khan said.