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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The National Institute of Health is launching a nationwide series of studies with as many as 40,000 people to research the long-term effects of COVID-19.

Why it matters: COVID symptoms that last more than four weeks, usually referred to as long COVID, have become an emerging public health concern as researchers do not know the cause.

  • Symptoms including brain fog, fatigue, persistent cough, loss of taste or smell and organ damage.

Details: In the coming months, the agency's goal is to better understand the prevalence and incidence of the long-term effects, the range of symptoms, risks and strategies for treatment and prevention.

  • The NIH allocated about $470 million for the project spanning 100 researchers and 30 institutions in the U.S. The agency already had a few ongoing studies on COVID long-haulers, and those studies will continue under this project.
  • The studies will include adult, pregnant and pediatric populations. The volunteers who currently have COVID-19 or have had the illness will undergo tissue pathology, and will be given wearable devices and smartphones for researchers to track data in real-time. Millions of electronic health records will also be analyzed.

By the numbers: Data from the CDC out last week showed that more than a third of people with long COVID reported having three or more symptoms at a time.

  • The most prevalent symptom in long haulers was fatigue, tiredness or weakness. More than a fourth of those with COVID reported changes in smell or taste.

What they're saying: “We know some people have had their lives completely upended by the major long-term effects of COVID-19,” NIH director Francis Collins, said in a statement.

  • "These studies will aim to determine the cause and find much-needed answers to prevent this often debilitating condition and help those who suffer move toward recovery," he added.

Go deeper

The Omicron wave begins

Expand chart
Note: Maryland is unable to report new cases due to a technical issue; Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Axios Visuals

U.S. coronavirus cases rose by 27% over the last two weeks as the Omicron variant quickly became dominant, although the rise was unevenly distributed around the country.

Why it matters: The spike in cases in cities like New York and D.C. are likely a preview of what will soon hit other parts of the country.

Updated Dec 28, 2021 - Economy & Business

Omicron surge and storms disrupt air travel for 4th straight day

Photo: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Another 1,000 flights were canceled in the U.S. on Monday due to COVID-19 outbreaks among crews for a fourth straight day, with storms in the Pacific Northwest adding to the chaos, AP reports.

Why it matters: Thousands of customers have been affected by the latest pandemic-driven travel disruptions since Christmas Eve, with airlines including United blaming a "nationwide spike in Omicron cases" in recent days.

Updated 58 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: The end of the Omicron wave is in sight — Transplants rebound from COVID lull — Omicron hits American hospitals disproportionately hard
  2. Vaccines: WHO: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies— Government website for free COVID tests launches early
  4. World: WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older
  5. Variant tracker

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