Long COVID 'affects a lot of people' even with vaccine, health expert warns

As health experts gain a further understanding about long COVID-19, some are warning that the condition is more common than we previously thought.
As health experts gain a further understanding about long COVID-19, some are warning that the condition is more common than we previously thought. Photo credit Getty Images
By , KCBS Radio

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS RADIO) – As health experts gain a further understanding about long COVID-19, some are warning that the condition is more common than we previously thought.

Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, Chief of Research and Development at the St. Louis VA Hospital, and Clinical epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, told KCBS Radio "Ask An Expert," the general knowledge on long COVID-19 has evolved dramatically.

"That's not to say we know everything, but we know it absolutely exists. Long COVID is not really a rare thing; it actually affects a lot of people," he said.

Originally, health experts believed that long COVID-19 caused fatigue and brain fog, but they now know it can be the source of more serious issues. "We know the manifestations are varied. Initially in the early stages of the pandemic we got reports of people having fatigue and brain fog, we now know it's much, much more than that," he warned. "It certainly can involve fatigue, certainly can involve brain fog, but it also can affect the heart, can affect the kidneys, can result in onset diabetes, so it's really a wide-ranging syndrome."

The condition can even impact those who are vaccinated, a fear health experts previously hoped they would avoid.

"We were hoping that vaccines would protect people from long COVID and it seems that vaccines reduce the risk of long COVID, but not really that much," Al-Aly explained. "The long COVID can actually still happen in people who are vaccinated."

What is still missing from the understanding is how to best treat long COVID. "There's a lot of work that will need to be done in that area," Al-Aly said.

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