NewsIn Focus


Fighting to understand Long COVID

An In Focus look at the RECOVER initiative at the NIH
NIH Headquarters
Posted at 12:02 PM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 18:11:14-04

BALTIMORE — "The idea is to cast a wide net, and then try and drill down," Dr. Walter Koroshetz says of the initiative about to recruit thousands of people across the country.

The study "Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery" or "RECOVER" for short hasn't started enrolling participants just yet.

But, the director of the NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says he hopes its soon.

"I don't know exactly when the first patient is going to be enrolled. Hopefully it's weeks," says Dr. Koroshetz.

The scientists conducting this study are hoping that results will help doctors understand and treat Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS CoV-2 otherwise known as PASC or Long COVID.

The NIH lists a preliminary estimate suggesting anywhere from 10-30% of people infected with COVID-19 will deal with long COVID symptoms, which on the low end gives an estimate of nearly 4 million Americans dealing with this disease that is puzzling disease.

"The hope is that we can discover something early on that we can then design intervention trials," says Dr. Koroshetz. "See if you know certain things can help people with certain symptom complex because there's more likely we're going to help people we intervene early than know three years down the road."

He tells us that the studies are currently funded for four years.

But while answers to questions like, "Why is this happening?" might still be years down the line - Dr. Koroshetz says he hopes that the study will help people sooner than that.

"You know," he says, "if a patient is having persistent symptoms, that's a problem, we have to kind of solve no matter what its due to.. For different people, it might be different things."

However, the medical community still wants to understand what's going on behind the scenes.

"The first thing we need to know is whether there's still production of virus in the body," says Dr. Koroshetz about what questions the RECOVER studies will hope to answer.

"And the other question is that after an infection.. are people having antibodies that are then reacting against their own self proteins?"

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