The long-term impact of COVID-19 is only now being understood -- and it's not a pretty picture: study
File photo of a medic conducting a Covid-19 test at a medical centre in Paris. Bertrand GUAY AFP

Doctors are discovering that the millions of Americans who managed to survive the COVID-19 pandemic are left with long-standing problems, and they have no idea just how long they will last.

The Wall Street Journal reported an August BMJ study that after nearly a year fighting off the coronavirus, they're discovering that those who made it through the virus are still having problems with "severe fatigue, memory lapses, digestive problems, erratic heart rates, headaches, dizziness, fluctuating blood pressure, even hair loss." For some so-called long-haulers who still have symptoms after months of having the virus, taste and smell still haven't returned.

As the pandemic rages, the raw numbers show a picture of survivors and victims of the virus, but few explore the lasting health impact that some continue to experience.

"What is surprising to doctors is that many such cases involve people whose original cases weren't the most serious, undermining the assumption that patients with mild Covid-19 recover within two weeks," said the report. "Doctors call the condition 'post-acute Covid' or 'chronic Covid,' and sufferers often refer to themselves as 'long haulers' or 'long-Covid' patients."

"Usually, the patients with bad disease are most likely to have persistent symptoms, but Covid doesn't work like that," said Trisha Greenhalgh, professor of primary care at the University of Oxford. She was also the lead author on the study.

The disease isn't that bad for many people, she explained, it's the aftermath of the virus with "symptoms like memory lapses and rapid heart rate sometimes persist for months."

Read more about the study at the Wall Street Journal.