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NIH director Francis Collins. Photo: Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images

National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins announced Tuesday that the agency is launching an initiative to study "long COVID" — the lingering, long-term symptoms some people experience after they've had the virus.

Why it matters: The causes of these symptoms — which can include fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, fevers and sleep disorders — aren't well understood, and doctors have been calling for a serious research effort for months.

Details: Collins said the research initiative will try to answer questions like how many people have long-term symptoms, what causes them, why do some people get them and not others, and whether the virus sets off changes that makes people more vulnerable to other conditions.

  • "We do not know yet the magnitude of the problem, but given the number of individuals of all ages who have been or will be infected ... the public health impact could be profound," Collins said in the announcement.

Of note: Axios' Eileen Drage O'Reilly wrote a great story last month about the struggles of people with long COVID and the need for focused research on it.

Go deeper

Updated 21 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Booster shots overtake first doses in the U.S. — Pfizer to vaccinate entire Brazilian city as part of study — FDA panel endorses shot of J&J booster for adultsU.S. to lift restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers on Nov. 8.
  2. Health: New cases down, but the West is at risk — Low vaccination rates exacerbate America's caregiving crisis — COVID is here to stay. So what does "victory" look like? — FDA will review Merck COVID-19 pill.
  3. Politics: NHL announces all but four players have been vaccinated — WHO names new advisory group on COVID origins — Biden admin warns Moderna to "step up" global vaccine supply.
  4. Education: LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations amid staffing shortage — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive — Arizona can't use aid for anti-mask education grants, Treasury says.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Feb 23, 2021 - Health

Pfizer and Moderna expect to double vaccine shipments by spring

UCHealth pharmacist Marissa Kim prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 20 in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Moderna and Pfizer plan to significantly boost vaccine shipments to the U.S. government by this spring, according to written testimony from company executives released Tuesday ahead of a House committee hearing on vaccines.

Where it stands: Pfizer expects to increase its weekly vaccine delivery from 4-5 million doses at the start of February to more than 13 million doses by mid-March, said John Young, Pfizer's chief business officer.

Feb 23, 2021 - Health

Wealthy Californians reportedly exploit COVID vaccine program

The Lincoln Park Covid-19 vaccination site on February 19 in Los Angeles. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

California residents in affluent communities are taking up COVID-19 vaccination appointments meant for underserved communities of color, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.

Why it matters: Although Gov. Gavin Newsom has frequently stressed the importance of establishing equity in the state’s vaccine rollout, affluent white and Asian-American Californians are still receiving the vaccine at higher rates than Black and Latino residents in underserved areas, per the Times.