There is no end to the coronavirus pandemic in sight yet and the world is already staring at another health crisis: the Covid-19 aftermath. They call it the “post-Covid syndrome”.
Post-Covid-19 analysis by top American scientific bodies the National Center for Biotechnology Information and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have found that many patients who recovered from the coronavirus infection are facing milder to life-threatening symptoms. Hospitals across the world are witnessing deadly health issues like heart damage, stroke, neurological problems, lung damage or pulmonary fibrosis, chronic fatigue syndrome and multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children.
India, so far, is not tracing down post-Covid syndrome cases, says union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, but other countries are already preparing for an emerging health crisis. They are scientifically recording the post-Covid syndrome cases to know further about SARS-CoV-2, a totally unknown virus just eight months ago.
A sample study by the Journal of American Medical Association conducted in Frankfurt, Germany found 78% of the recovered Covid-19 respondents developed heart-related problems. These were healthy individuals, aged 40 to 50 before the novel coronavirus infection. A study by the UK’s Edinburgh University, in 69 countries across six continents, found heart abnormality in 55% patients while 15% patients showed severe abnormalities. All such recovered cases never had had related issues in the past.
Many recovered Covid-19 patients are also being re-hospitalised for pulmonary fibrosis, with damaged lung tissues. They may need oxygen support from time to time for the rest of their lives
Life-threatening Health Issues Post Covid-19 Recovery
Heart - Sample studies have found 80% healthy people facing heart problems post Covid recovery. Life-long disease, may result in multiple organ disability
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - 10% recovered Covid-19 cases may develop it, say research studies
Breathlessness - Patient may require oxygen support for life
Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome in Children - Severe illness in children, multiple organs show inflammatory response
According to a research paper posted by America’s National Institute of Health and similar papers published by other health-science entities, post-Covid syndrome can cause patients even to have nervous, immune, and metabolic system abnormalities, all affecting the body in sync, similar to a health illness known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)/myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), that was identified 70 years ago. ME is a long-term-effect health problem that deteriorates our strength and body.
Hospitals and doctors say many recovered patients are complaining about and being re-hospitalised for severe fatigue, brain fog, body ache and pain and immune aberrations, all ME symptoms. In severe cases, ME can also disable the whole body.
According to Dr Anthony Fauci, top American infectious disease expert, countries need to consider seriously that what many patients are facing is strikingly similar to ME. “This is not a virus to take lightly, even with young people,” Fauci said in an interview with Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
Oved Amitay, CEO of the non-profit Solve ME/CFS Initiative, says 80% of ME cases are due to infections, mostly viral. And with Covid cases now touching the 2.5-crore mark, we are looking at an absolutely dark possibility.
SARS, MERS and Epstein-Barr virus triggered ME in many patients but if the same happens with SARS-CoV-2 or Covid-19 virus, we cannot imagine the problems associated with it, seeing the global pandemic caused by it. There is no test available so far for ME, no scientific details on its origin, no cure available so far, no approved drugs and too few experts to talk about it. A 2015 study by the National Medicine in the US estimated that up to 2.5 million Americans suffered from ME.
There is no information on how many Covid-19 patients may end up having ME. According to Leonard Jason, a professor and an ME researcher at DePaul University in Chicago, said based on older research, 10% or an even larger number of Covid-19 patients may develop ME if they feel symptoms even after six months. That means a possibility of 2.5 million ME cases globally or 3.5 lakh cases in India, if we go by the current Covid-19 numbers.
Professor Jason adds that though the threshold is six months to see if post-recovery symptoms were shorter-lived viral syndrome or ME, the same cannot be applied if it is after Covid-19 recovery as very little is known about the novel coronavirus and “there are more questions than answers”.
Post-Covid-19 syndrome is also affecting children. Kawasaki-like disease or multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a rare but life-threatening Covid-19 effect. It is a new syndrome observed in children that makes them very ill with signs of inflammation from multiple organs and severe organ damage.
According to the CDC, most MIS-C cases are being observed in children between 1 to 14 years of age. MIS-C cases have been reported from many parts of India and from across the globe. A CDC update on MIS-C says, the US so far has seen 694 cases and 11 deaths.