Senate Committee Calls Attention to Need for Help to Long COVID Sufferers and Scientists
On January 18th, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing titled “Addressing Long COVID: Advancing Research and Improving Patient Care.” We commend and appreciate the efforts made by the HELP Committee in shedding light on this issue, raising awareness for those suffering from long COVID, as well as recognizing researchers for their work.
Key points highlighted in the hearing include:
- Long COVID is a complex disorder that affects multiple systems in the body, including the brain, heart, lungs, immune system, endocrine system, and gastrointestinal system. This results in a wide range of challenging and disabling symptoms.
- Many patients who have shared their symptoms have found their physicians dismissive, despite extensive scientific evidence showing the physiological damage caused by this disease.
- Approximately 22-38% of COVID-infected individuals are affected by long COVID, and recovery rates are poor. Reinfections cause new cases of Long COVID. The ongoing risk of Long COVID after reinfection is not widely known by the public.
- Currently, there are no FDA-approved treatments for Long COVID.
- Long COVID has severe societal economic consequences due to widespread illness and disability.
- The only way to prevent Long COVID is by avoiding contracting COVID in the first place.
- High quality respirator masks evident at the meeting illustrate the importance of masks for safety, including for access to safe healthcare.
In order to address this urgent problem, the following actions are necessary:
- Adequate funding for research is crucial to match the scale of the issue, considering over 20 millions of COVID-infected Americans affected by Long COVID and the increasing number of reinfections over time. This funding should support necessary studies including treatment and prevention trials.
- While observational studies provide useful insights, larger and more diverse randomized control trials are needed to determine effective treatments and interventions.
- Prevention efforts should include setting building codes that prioritize clean indoor air using ventilation and air filtering, which can play a significant role in preventing both COVID and Long COVID.
- It is essential to take the momentum from the committee meeting and translate it into actionable steps that address the needs of suffering and disabled individuals looking for help.
Overall, the Senate HELP Committee’s hearing on addressing Long COVID was a significant step towards recognizing and tackling this debilitating condition. We hope that the committee’s actions will lead to tangible progress in advancing research, improving patient care, and preventing COVID and its long-term impacts. The World Health Network looks forward to the progress that will be made by other stakeholders as a result of this hearing and hopes that it will pave the way for additional constructive actions in the future.