DETROIT – While Europe has fought through its first wave of coronavirus (COVID-19) infections, doctors said lingering symptoms and painful long-term effects are increasing the need for ongoing care.
From the beginning of the pandemic, experts have looked to the places hit first for guidance on what to expect. There’s a picture emerging in Europe of previously healthy survivors now plagued by persistent problems, and they’re calling on the government and researchers for more help.
In Italy, Emiliano Pescarolo is taking each day one breath at a time. A professional diver, he’s working to strengthen muscles that were weakened by COVID-19.
“Your strength is less than before, so if you go for a workout, you have to take two, three hours to rest later,” Pescarolo said.
It’s been three months since he contracted the virus.
“Even simple things like walking a couple of miles is like running a marathon,” Pescarolo said.
He spent 17 days in the hospital. Even speaking can leave him short of breath.
“I cannot do the same things I did in the past,” Pescarolo said.
He’s one of dozens of COVID-19 patients being evaluated at a rehabilitation institute in Genoa, Italy. The primary concerns are lung issues, weakness, fatigue and psychological problems.
In the United Kingdom, a new study into the long-term effects of the coronavirus is underway.
“It might be that they actually develop new problems, such as scarring on the lungs, and in some people, we’ve also observed that the blood becomes more sticky, making them more prone to getting clots, which can then occur in the lungs and also in the brain,” said Professor Chris Brightling, a researcher and the University of Leicester.
Survivors said it’s unsettling to be suffering months after their infections.
A video made by a Facebook support group with 8,000 members is calling for more rehab, research and recognition.
With so much we still don’t know about the virus, research into its long-term consequences will be essential, as will studies into the most effective ways to treat those lingering symptoms.
Europe is farther along in the process than the United States, but this is also a concern for doctors in the U.S.
Many COVID-19 survivors in the U.S. are undergoing rehab and reporting lingering problems with fatigue, brain fog and more. It’s impossible to know what the truly long-term effects are because the virus has only been around for months.