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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Some coronavirus patients still have symptoms months after they are first infected, challenging the narrative that most people will survive the disease and move on.

Why it matters: As cases soar in the U.S., thousands more people will not only be hospitalized or die, but also will keep feeling the effects of the infection months from now.

Where it stands: Six months into the pandemic, we’re still figuring out how the virus works, how it kills people and the implications for the people who survive it.

Long-term symptoms range from neurological issues like “brain fogs” to an elevated heart rate.

  • One study of Italian patients, published in JAMA, evaluated patients’ symptoms several weeks after they’d been discharged from the hospital and tested negative for the virus. It found that only 12.6% of them were free of any coronavirus-related symptoms.
  • Common symptoms among recovered patients include fatigue, difficulty breathing, joint and chest pain, cough and headache.
  • Many of these patients are “younger and had previously been healthy, with Covid cases initially considered mild to moderate. But months later they are still sick, and some are getting worse,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

What they’re saying: David Putrino, director of rehabilitation innovation at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, told the WSJ that he thinks most patients with long-term symptoms are developing dysautonomia, a neurological condition that occurs when the autonomic nervous system is out of balance.

  • It’s not clear whether the condition is a result of an overactive immune system, the virus itself, or is a post-viral syndrome, Putrino said.
  • Another explanation is chronic fatigue syndrome, which some scientists theorize can be caused by stressful events.

The bottom line: “I’ve been very concerned by friends and family who just aren’t taking this seriously because they think you’re either asymptomatic or dead,” Hannah Davis, a patient who in June had been suffering from the virus for more than 70 days, told The Atlantic’s Ed Yong. “This middle ground has been hellish.”

Go deeper

Oct 31, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Study: Trump campaign rallies likely led to over 700 COVID-related deaths

Supporters gather before President Trump arrives for a rally at the Bemidji Regional Airport on Sept. 18 in Bemidji, Minnesota. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Eighteen Trump campaign rallies "ultimately resulted" in more than 30,000 incremental confirmed COVID-19 cases and "likely led to more than 700 deaths," researchers at Stanford University concluded in a study published Friday.

Why it matters: The Trump campaign has come under repeated fire for being lax about mask requirements and refusing to adhere to social distancing and other local guidelines at its events, which sometimes draw thousands of people.

Nov 1, 2020 - Health

WH accuses Fauci of playing politics over bleak coronavirus assessment

President Trump and NIAID director Anthony Fauci during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in April. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci praised the Biden campaign's coronavirus stance, criticized White House adviser Scott Atlas and offered a bleak assessment of the U.S. pandemic response in an interview with the Washington Post, published Saturday.

Why it matters: Fauci's comments are perhaps his most frank yet and come as COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. The White House called Fauci's remarks three days out from the election "unacceptable." Atlas publicly responded to his fellow coronavirus task force member in a tweet late Saturday.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. State of play: New coronavirus cases down, but more bad news ahead.
  2. Politics: Biden set to immediately ramp up federal pandemic response with 10 executive actions — Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. World: Biden will order U.S. to rejoin World Health OrganizationBiden to bring U.S. into global COVAX initiative for equitable vaccine access.
  4. Vaccine: Amazon offers to help Biden administration with COVID vaccine efforts.