Long COVID: Complications, Underlying Mechanisms, and Treatment Strategies

Author(s): Farigol Hakem Zadeh, Daniel R. Wilson, Devendra K. Agrawal

Long Covid is one of the most prevalent and puzzling conditions that arose with the Covid pandemic. Covid-19 infection generally resolves within several weeks but some experience new or lingering symptoms. Though there is no formal definition for such lingering symptoms the CDC boadly describes long Covid as persons having a wide range of new, recurring or sustained health issues four or more weeks after first being infected with SARS-CoV2. The WHO defines long Covid as the manifestation of symptoms from a “probable or confirmed” Covid-19 infection that start approximately 3 months after the onset of the acute infection and last for more than 2 months. Numerous studies have looked at the implications of long Covid on various organs. Many specific mechanisms have been proposed for such changes. In this article, we provide an overview of some of the main mechanisms by which long Covid induces end-organ damage proposed in recent research studies. We also review various treatment options, current clinical trials, and other potential therapeutic avenues to control long Covid followed by the information about the effect of vaccination on long Covid. Lastly, we discuss some of the questions and knowledge gaps in the present understanding of long Covid. We believe more studies of the effects long Covid has on quality of life, future health and life expectancy are required to better understand and eventually prevent or treat the disease. We acknowledge the effects of long Covid are not limited to those in this article but as it may affect the health of future offspring and therefore, we deem it important to identify more prognostic and therapeutic targets to control this condition.

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