A new office has been formed within the US Department of Health and Human Services to lead the nation’s response to the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Monday, HHS announced the formation of the Office of Long COVID Research and Practice to lead the federal government’s response to long Covid, a sometimes-debilitating condition marked by symptoms of Covid-19 that last weeks or months beyond the initial infection. It’s estimated that up to 23 million people in the United States have developed long Covid.
In Monday’s announcement, HHS officials applauded the launch of long-awaited clinical trials for long Covid patients through the National Institutes of Health’s RECOVER Initiative. The initiative, launched in 2021, is a $1.15 billion nationwide research program aimed at better understanding, treating and preventing long Covid.
“As our nation continues to make strides in combating COVID-19, it is crucial that we address the impact of Long COVID and provide resources to those in need,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in the announcement. “Last year President Biden called on HHS to coordinate the response to Long COVID. The Official establishment of the Long COVID Coordinating office and the launch of the RECOVER clinical trials solidifies this issue as an ongoing priority.”
In May, the RECOVER Initiative published research that identified 12 symptoms that can reliably classify someone as having long Covid: the worsening of health after mental or physical activity; fatigue; brain fog; dizziness; gastrointestinal symptoms; heart palpitations; changes in sexual desire or capacity; loss of or change in taste or smell; thirst; chronic cough; chest pain; and abnormal movements.
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Overall, more than 200 symptoms are associated with long Covid, and the condition can affect nearly all systems within the body, including the nervous, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, pulmonary and immune systems.
“The Office of Long COVID Research and Practice will enhance efforts being undertaken across the U.S. government to improve the lives of those who continue to experience the long-term impacts of the worst public health crisis in a century,” Adm. Dr. Rachel Levine, the HHS assistant secretary for health, said in Monday’s announcement. “Bringing together the resources and expertise of federal, state, and local partners, patients, providers, researchers, and the business sector to answer the American peoples most urgent calls to action.”