SEATTLE, WA — The University of Washington School of Medicine is helping lead a nationwide study, aiming to learn why some COVID-19 patients experience prolonged symptoms.
One of the researchers is Kelli O'Laughlin, a UW Medicine professor and emergency room physician, who says she has seen some former COVID-19 patients later return to the hospital experiencing severe fatigue and shortness of breath.
"We want to understand the long-term effects of COVID-19 and the ongoing impact it has on people's lives," O'Laughlin said. "We are still trying to understand which lingering symptoms are to be expected, how long they will remain and what is causing them."
Nikki Gentile, another UW professor, said the same trend in "long-haulers" has been also noted by primary care doctors.
"We are seeing a lot of previously healthy, active patients presenting to primary care clinics with shortness of breath, fatigue, decreased exercise tolerance, diminished sense of taste or smell, and/or new or worsening anxiety or depression several weeks, or even months post-COVID-19 infection," Gentile said.
The New York Times recently reported that some estimates indicate 1 in 3 coronavirus survivors suffer prolonged symptoms. The new two-year study hopes to illuminate why that might be happening across various age groups.
The research, funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will allow UW medical experts to keep tabs on participants who contracted the virus and closely follow their recovery path. Recruitment for the study began on Oct. 1 and will analyze thousands of COVID-19 cases across the nation.