How Long COVID Will Change Healthcare
Recently Katelyn Jetelina, an epidemiologist and data scientist, spoke at the Institute of Functional Medicine Annual International Conference about the challenges in studying Long COVID. Jetelina emphasized the potential for prevention and treatment if the disease patterns of Long COVID can be understood and predicted. However, the complexity of Long COVID, which encompasses a wide range of symptoms, makes it difficult to establish a consensus on its definition.
The prevalence of the condition is still uncertain, although an estimated six to seven million Americans are believed to be suffering from it. Despite limited empirical evidence, Long COVID is biologically plausible, as lasting symptoms following viral infections have been observed before. Research has indicated a strong correlation between high viral load and the likelihood of developing Long COVID. The extensive range of symptoms can be attributed to the virus's ability to damage multiple organs. Jetelina stressed that Long COVID has significant consequences for patients, healthcare professionals, and the healthcare system as a whole. It is expected to have long-lasting impacts, including post-ICU recovery, resource limitations, and interruptions in care for chronic conditions. Long COVID severely affects the health and well-being of patients, with some cases becoming debilitating. While certain treatments have shown promise, a cure for Long COVID remains unknown. Jetelina called for increased investment in long COVID clinical research infrastructure and a multidisciplinary approach to address this ongoing problem.