Researchers Explore Solutions For Covid Long Haulers

TO BRING OUTORIGINAL WITH IN DEPTH REPORTING ON A TOPIC WE HAVE BEEN KEEPING-EYE ON. WHAT HAPPENS TO PEOPLE WHO GOT COVID AND STILL SUFFERING FROM IT. A NEW STUDY FROM STANFORD UNIVERSITY HAS FINDINGS ON THIS. TURNS OUT COVID PATIENTS, SOME, CAN HARBOR COVID IN THEIR INTESTINAL SYSTEM, BASICALLY, FOR MONTHS AFTER GETTING INFECTED. RESEARCHERS SAY THIS MAKES THEM MORE WORRIED THE VIRUS COULD AGGRAVATE THE IMMUNE SYSTEM AND CAUSE LONG-TERM SYMPTOMS.

OUR TEAM TALKED WITH ONE WOMAN WHO WHAT TWO-YEAR LONG BATTLE, TWO YEARS, LONG, FOR LONG COVID. SHE GOT VIRUS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC AND HER LIFE HAS NOT BEEN THE SAME. RESEARCHER THINK AS MANY AS 23 MILLION AMERICANS ARE DEALING WITH WITH LONG COVID. JOHN TORRES EXPLAINS WHAT IT'S LIKE FOR SOME PATIENTS. >> Reporter: SHE LOVED TEACHING MIDDLE SCHOOL ENGLISH IN BALTIMORE. GOING OVER SHAKESPEARE HELPING STUDENT WRITE GREAT ESSAYS. WHEN THE PANDEMIC STARTED SHE TOLD THE STUDENTS IT WOULD BE OKAY. BUT IT WAS NOT. >> I KNEW SOMETHING EERIE WAS HAPPENING IN MY BODY. >> Reporter: MARCH 2020, AND SMITH WAS EXPERIENCING COVID SYMPTOMS. >> I EXPERIENCED A FULL RANGE OF SYMPTOMS THE FIRST WEEK, THAT GREW INTO SOME OF THE MOST BIZARRE FRIGHTENING AND FRUSTRATING SYMPTOMS. >> Reporter: I DIDN'T CONSULT HER BUT SHE SAID BY APRIL OF 2020, HER COVID TEST CAME BACK NEGATIVE, SHE REALIZED HER COVID SYMPTOMS WERE LINGER LONGER THAN EXPECTED. >> I LOST MY VISION AT THE END OF APRIL, MY BODY JUST NEVER RECOVERED.

I MEAN MY COUGH WAS PERSISTENT. MY LUNGS WERE BURNING. AND I COULDN'T SMELL OR TASTE. I NEVER TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID. BUT I WAS ONE OF THE PATIENTS WHO KNEW FINALLY AFTER A YEAR, WAS CLINICALLY DIAGNOSED. >> Reporter: SMITH HAS WHAT EXPERTS ARE CALLING LONG COVID. THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION DEFINES IT AS THE CONSTELLATION OF LONG-TERM SYMPTOMS SOME PEOPLE EXPERIENCE AFTER THEY HAD COVID-19. SYMPTOM SET TO LAST FOR AT LEAST TWO MONTHS INCLUDING FATIGUE, SHORTNESS OF BREATH, PERSISTENT COUGH AND ACHES. >> ONE OF THE RESEARCHERS THAT WORKS WITH US SAID COVID DIDN'T TELL THEM BUT IT KILLED THEIR LIFE. >> Reporter: EP DEEM OUT GIST IS LEADING AEPIDEMIOLOGIST ARE START A STUDY TO UNDERSTAND LONG COVID BETTER.

>> ONE THING WE HAVE LEARNED IS THAT NO ONE IS IMMUNE. >> Reporter: MEDICAL RESEARCH AROUND LONG COVID IS IN THE EARLY DAYS AND EXPERTS ARE ONLY BEGINNING TO UNDERSTAND HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED AND FOR HOW LONG. >> I KEPT SAYING, HEY, YOU KNOW, I WILL BE BACK IN AUGUST OF 2020. THEN IT BECAME I WILL BE BACK IN JANUARY OF 2021. BUT WHEN I REALIZED IN AUGUST OF 2020 THAT I WAS NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO GO BACK TO WORK, I THINK THE I SAT IN MY ROOM FOR TWO DAYS AND CRIED. >> Reporter: HER SYMPTOMS ARE LIFE CHANGING. >> I GET MIGRAINES 16 TO 20 TIMES A MONTH. FATIGUE IS A BIG ISSUE FOR ME. IT'S HARD FOR ME TO WALK BECAUSE EVERY NOW AND AGAIN, I WILL GET THIS IMPINGED JOINT PAIN. >> Reporter: THE BIDEN AADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCED A PLAN TO DETECT PREVENT AND LONG COVID EXPANDING LONG COVID CLINICS AND SUPPORTING THOSE WITH LONG COVID.

TAMMY DUCKWORTH AND ANOTHER REPRESENTATIVE INTRODUCED A BILL TO FUND MORE EXPANDED LONG COVID CLINICS. BUT FOR MANY SUFFERING FROM LONG COVID, THEY ARE FINDING SUPPORT WITH EACH OTHER. SOME JOINING LONG COVID SUPPORT AND ADVOCACY GROUPS AND OTHERS PARTICIPATING IN STUDIES LIKE THIS ONE AT JOHNS HOPKINS. THE FEEDBACK CRITICAL FOR MOVING STUDY FORWARD. >> MORE PARTICIPANTS WE GET THE FASTER WE CAN RUN, THE FAST ARE WE LEARN. >> Reporter: LEARNING FROM PATIENTS. WHO LIKE SMITH STILL AWAIT ANSWERS AS THEY CONTINUE TO LIVE WITH LONG COVID. >> I MISS WHAT I DO.

I MISS WHAT I DID. AND SOMETIMES I HAVE A HARD TIME PLACING — BECAUSE SOMETIMES IT'S HARD TO REMEMBER I DON'T DO IT ANYMORE. >> DR. JOHN TORRES JOINS US, AND THAT'S SUCH AN IMPORTANT STORY BECAUSE I THINK THERE'S A MOMENT WAR LOT OF PEOPLE FEEL LIKE WE ARE MOVING PAST THE AND DEM BECK THERE ARE MILLIONS DEALING HE WITH SOME OF THE SYMPTOMS, AND A LOT RESEARCHERS DON'T KNOW. WHAT I FOUND INTERESTING ABOUT THAT STORY AND READING MORE IS THERE'S HOPE THIS COULD ACCELERATE DIFFERENT KINDS OF POTENTIAL BREAKTHROUGHS WHEN IT COMES TO ILLNESSES RIGHT? >> AND YOU ARE CORRECT. UNFORTUNATELY FOR BETTER OR WORSE, THIS HAS BEEN A VERY HUGE EXPERIMENT ACROSS THE WORLD WITH MILLIONS, HALF A BILLION PEOPLE, GETTING COVID, AND IT GIVES THEM A HUGE DATA BASE OF WHAT TO LOOK AT AND WHAT'S HAPPENING.

THE VIRAL ILLNESS, ALTHOUGH IT MIGHT GO AWAY IT IS LEAVE BEHIND SYMPTOMS AND OTHER ISSUES WE DON'T KNOW HOW LONG IT WILL LAST, AND WE DON'T THINK THAT'S UNIQUE TO COVID. IT COULD BE HAPPENING IN OTHER THINGS AS WELL. BUT WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW IS WE ARE FINDING OUT RESEARCHERS ARE COMING TOGETHER AND SHARING DATA AND INFORMATION AND THAT'S ACCELERATING THE RESEARCH AS TIME GOES OBJECT, AND WE THINK THAT WILL EXPAND TO OTHER FIELDS OF MEDICINE AS WELL. AND SO I HATE TO SAY THERE'S A SILVER LINING TO WHAT HAPPENED OVER THE LAST COUPLE YEARS, BUT THIS IS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT MAY COME OUT FROM IT. >> YOU REFERENCED 1 $1.5 BILLION STUDY, THE LONG COVID RESEARCH PLAN. WHAT'S TIMELINE FOR WHEN WE MIGHT START TO GET ANSWERS HERE. YOU NOTE MEDICAL FIELD AND HOW LONG SOME OF THE STUFF TAKES.

WHAT'S REALISTIC? >> THE TIMELINE IS SOMETHING WE DON'T KNOW BECAUSE WHAT THEY DID ISN THIS, THE ASSESSMENT WHAT THEY WANT TO DO IS GO AHEAD AND HAVE THE HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES TO START A PLAN TO GET EVERYTHING COORDINATED BECAUSE UP UNTIL NOW, IT'S HODGEPODGE AROUND THE COUNTRY. DIFFERENT CLINICS AND RESEARCHERS. PULLING THAT TOGETHER, THAT TAKES PONY, AND THEY PUT MONEY INTO THIS, THE CRITICS SAY IT'S NOT ENOUGH, AND FOR LONG ENOUGH.

BUT WE KNOW IT WILL GO ON FOR A WHILE. AND IT'S SOMETHING THAT WILL HAPPEN POSSIBLY FOR YEARS OR DECADES FROM NOW. SO GETTING IT NOW AND UNDERSTANDING IT NOW IS IMPORTANT FOR THE PEOPLE.

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