Government-funded study creates first symptom-based long Covid definition, a step toward finding treatments

By Brenda Goodman: Complete Post through this link…

After more than two years and an investment of nearly $1.2 billion, researchers say they’ve come up with a list of 12 symptoms that can reliably classify someone as having long Covid, a working definition that should accelerate research into the disabling condition.

The study, which was published Thursday in the medical journal JAMA, is the first research to emerge from a large effort following more than 13,000 adults at more than 200 study sites as part of the National Institutes of Health’s RECOVER initiative, which stands for Researching Covid to Enhance Recovery.

With its massive budget and scope, the RECOVER initiative has been a great hope of people with long Covid, some of whom are too ill to leave a bed or a chair for long.

Census data suggests that 15% of US adults experienced new or lasting symptoms months after their initial infections, a phenomenon scientists have dubbed postacute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection, or PASC. More than 200 symptoms have been reported by people with PASC or long Covid.

For the study, researchers asked nearly 10,000 adults – some who were previously infected and others who had never had Covid, based on antibody testing – to answer a detailed set of questions about 44 symptoms affecting all parts of the body. Symptoms that appeared in more than 2.5% of individuals were then considered, narrowing the list to 37.

From there, they gave each symptom a score. Twelve symptoms got a score of 1 or higher:

• Postexertional malaise, or the worsening of health after mental or physical activity

• Fatigue

• Brain fog

• Dizziness

• Gastrointestinal symptoms

• Heart palpitations

• Changes in sexual desire or capacity

• Loss of or change in smell or taste

• Thirst

• Chronic cough

• Chest pain

• Abnormal movements

The symptoms are weighted according to how likely they are to appear in people who have long Covid compared with those who don’t. Loss of smell or taste was given 8 points, for example, because it is really unusual in people who haven’t had Covid. Dizziness gets a score of 1.

People who scored a 12 or higher based on all their symptoms were defined as having long Covid.

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