PENNSYLVANIA, USA — For more than three years, Dr. John Goldman with UPMC has dealt with COVID-19 and the effects people face when they don’t fully recover.

“When you look at COVID, somewhere between one-quarter and one-third of the people who get COVID report these kinds of symptoms,” Dr. Goldman, an infectious disease expert, said.

The condition known as Long COVID – brings lingering side effects from an infection that often include brain fog, fatigue, and respiratory and heart issues.

The Department of Health and Human Services is pushing forward with funding to help address the condition, also known as post-COVID. The agency awarded $45 million dollars in grants to help clinics across the country develop new models of care and expand access to treat the condition.

The money will support underserved, rural, vulnerable, and minority populations that are disproportionately impacted by the effects of Long COVID. Expanded care for the condition comes as medical experts continue to navigate it’s unknowns.

“Part of the issue with Long COVID is that people aren’t quite sure how to treat it,” Dr. Goldman said. “It’s probably a set of diseases rather than a single disease, and you probably have to customize it depending on which version of long COVID you have.”

With a wide variety of symptoms and no proven way to detect them, treatment for the condition is often specific to individual patients.

“Long COVID is a clinical diagnosis,” Dr. Goldman said. “There isn’t a blood test, for example, that tells you that you have Long COVID.”

However, newly published data shows specific blood biomarkers could reveal if someone suffers from it. Researchers at Mount Sinai and Yale found “Long COVID patients have clear differences in immune and hormone function from patients without the condition.”

They also say more research and larger trials are needed.

In the meantime, Dr. Goldman instructs people to monitor how they feel in the weeks following a COVID-19 infection 

“If they are a week or two after their COVID has cleared, if they’re still short of breath, if they still feel that they have fuzzy thinking, if they’re extremely tired, if they’re extremely achy, they should go to see a doctor,” Dr. Goldman said. 

Seeking medical advice can also help identify if symptoms are the result of a different issue.

Dr. Goldman pointed out that it’s currently unclear if new variants of the virus will cause an increase or decrease in cases of Long COVID.

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