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Catch up quick: Long COVID
COVID-19 is not the common cold. Here’s an effort to keep you up-to-date on long COVID developments.
Not “in the clear” after first infection
What we knew: Long COVID after first infection was clearly a risk. The risk of long COVID-19 after re-infection was not known.
New info: In the U.K., risk of long COVID dropped after second infections compared to first infection (4% → 2.4%). This is good and bad news: Risk drops, but risk is clearly not zero.
Why it matters: There is still reason to avoid COVID-19, even if you’ve had it already.
Metformin may work
What we knew: ~300 clinical trials are testing treatments for long COVID-19, including Metformin. Results are trickling in.
New info: Metformin reduced long COVID in a large randomized control trial.
Metformin had a 42% reduced risk in long COVID cases compared to the placebo; 63% reduced risk if taken within 4 days of symptoms.
For every 100 people who took the drug, 4 fewer cases of long COVID 9-months after infection occurred.
Ivermectin and fluvoxamine had no impact.
Why it matters: People should consider Metformin, especially women who are at higher risk for long COVID. It’s best taken within 4 days of infection. This is a challenging timeframe in the U.S. medical care system, though.
Paxlovid may help… a little?
New info: Paxlovid reduced risk of long COVID by 26%, regardless of vaccination status and history of prior infection. We need more studies, particularly among young people, as Paxlovid’s effect will likely increase among younger people.
Why it matters: There may be small, proxy benefits from taking Paxlovid, including among younger populations that aren’t “eligible.”
Long COVID is annoyingly stubborn
What we didn’t know: We didn’t know the longevity of severe symptoms.
New info: Among those with long COVID, the rate in which symptoms affected daily life decreased from 45% → 25% over 7 months.
Why it matters: If you get severe long COVID, there is a chance that symptoms will get better after 7 months. Then again, there’s a chance that they won’t.
Still not convinced?
What we know: People living with long COVID report profound stigmatization because people disbelieve that long COVID is a “thing.”
New info: A YLE community member, Dianna Cowern (also known as Physics Girl on YouTube), was diagnosed with long COVID last summer. Her crew made a 4-min video. Check it out here if you’re still not convinced. It’s painstaking.
COVID-19 infection is not the common cold for some. Our knowledge is inching closer to treatments. But with so much unknown, we still need to emphasize prevention—keeping COVID-19 cases low and ensuring vaccination.
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“Your Local Epidemiologist (YLE)” is written by Dr. Katelyn Jetelina, MPH PhD—an epidemiologist, data scientist, wife, and mom of two little girls. During the day she works at a nonpartisan health policy think tank and is a senior scientific consultant to a number of organizations, including the CDC. At night she writes this newsletter. Her main goal is to “translate” the ever-evolving public health science so that people will be well equipped to make evidence-based decisions. This newsletter is free thanks to the generous support of fellow YLE community members. To support this effort, subscribe below: