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4 questions about long Covid experts wish they could answer

Vox: “David Putrino, a rehabilitation and long Covid researcher at the Mount Sinai medical school in New York City, has watched mounting evidence that suggests between 4 and 36 percent of Americans infected with Covid have symptoms lasting at least six months. It makes him nervous, and not just for the patients dealing with the long-term symptoms. He’s nervous because as the pandemic outbreak continues, many more people will be put at risk for long-term disability as the virus continues to spread. Meanwhile, policymakers don’t seem to be accounting for the risk of long Covid in public health recommendations. The condition did not figure into the CDC’s guidance on removing or reinstating preventive measures — those were based on deaths and intensive care unit hospitalizations. “I don’t think that policy has been based on fact,” Putrino said, regarding the lifting of preventive measures nationwide. “I think that policy is being based on hope.” The potential stakes of long Covid are high. But there’s a key tension here: Much about the condition remains veiled in mystery. Basic questions — like what long Covid even is — remain unanswered. And those mysteries make it easier for policymakers to turn a blind eye to it. “Even in the most basic ways, we can’t agree on a definition of this,” said Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist and scientist at Yale University who collaborates with Survivor Corps, a long Covid research group. There is no consensus among scientists on what exactly long Covid is, which makes it difficult to count the people affected by it and to understand its risk factors…”

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