Chimére Smith is a 39-year-old American who tested positive for COVID 19. Her hospital asked her to go home. Everything will be alright after 14 days, her doctor informed her. But those two weeks have never been over for her. This is one among the thousands of long COVID cases in the country.
Numerous studies have been done in the field. They suggest that one in every three Coronavirus infections is long COVID. Smith is just one among such patients. For people like her, symptoms may persist in days, weeks, months. And for her, one year has gone by after reporting severe illness.
The US Is Struggling With Long COVID
Stanford University too conducted research in the matter. As per their report, the main symptoms that persist in long COVID are tiredness and difficulty breathing. This adversely affected the quality of their life. Some reported loss of taste and smell. Others reported a loss of memory. Still, others even experienced loss of hair.
In March last year, Smith, a school teacher, went to her doctor complaining of fatigue, diarrhea, dizziness, sore throat, and difficulty breathing. CDC now recognizes these as the symptoms of COVID 19. During her month-long treatment, she began to faint. She started complaining of a feeling like something had hit her head on the concrete. Doctors dismissed her. They were even accused of being stressed out and anxious. But gradually, her condition deteriorated.
She began complaining of vision problems, difficulty to breathe and even neurological problems like loss of memory. In the sixth month, she found out that walking too is now a daunting task for her.
Smith identifies herself as a black woman. Many of the doctors she saw were white. They told her that she is a drug addict. Her attempts to contradict their assumptions on her condition appeared to them as a sign of aggression. When a doctor treats loss of vision as just a dry eye, you feel truly bad.
Confused, she took more than 12 COVID 19 tests. All of them came out as negative. Her antibody tests too came out as negative.
Health officials now know that both antibody and viral tests may turn out to be negative for long COVID patients. They may not have the particles responsible for the virus in their body. Antibodies too disappear fast. A study done in China showed that certain patients hospitalized for the symptoms of infection turned out to be negative during tests.
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Health officials still don’t know how many black women are suffering from long COVID. Smith, however, says that she is receiving hundreds of messages of black people suffering and struggling to get the care they deserve.
The risk of infections is higher for black people when compared to their white counterparts. And the risk of hospitalization is up to three times higher.
On the 26th of July, President Biden published the updated guidelines. In it, he said that the country will treat long COVID as a disability. And they will be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Doctors did numerous numerological tests on Smith. She is now able to walk slowly. Still, she sees herself as disabled. But she is recovering slowly.
The mystery called the long COVID is still evading researchers.
America is now more than 18 months into the pandemic. They still are unable to decipher how a lung infection is causing the symptoms like loss of memory. Scientists offer contradicting theories.
Some say that brain damage may be the result of the damage the entire body suffers because of the infection. Others say that the virus infects the small blood vessels that carry blood to the brain. And for others, it may be the virus itself.
Whatever is the reason, health professionals are exploring their options in treating the disease. Studies are going on. And officials are hoping for the best.
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