$1.15B NIH plan launched to solve COVID 'long-hauler' mystery

CHICAGO (WLS) -- One of the major mysteries of the COVID-19 pandemic is why some people who survived the infection continue to have symptoms months later. Now, the National Institutes of Health is launching a new initiative to study what the NIH director calls a "constellation of symptoms" suffered by a large number of COVID-19 patients "long past the time they've recovered from the initial stages" of the illness.

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"My heart rate was constantly elevated, and I, my breathing was bad as well, so it's I had a mixture of both," ICU Nurse Huda Amorah told the I-Team. "And then COVID brain is real. For anyone who tells you know it is real, you have this like memory fog," Amorah continued.

Even though Chicago COVID patients, doctors and reseachers know it's real -- no one knows what's causing this major complication of the pandemic: continuing symptoms even after the infection is gone.

"It's very, very real and it's upending quite many more people than we had ever anticipated," said Dr. Marc Sala, Northwestern Medicine.

SEE ALSO | Almost one-third of people with 'mild' COVID-19 still battle symptoms months later, study finds

The National Institutes of Health is now launching a four year, $1.15 billion dollar effort to find out why so many people are dealing with this puzzling sequel to the disease.

"It's very difficult to treat something when you don't know what the target of the treatment is. That's the reason why it's extremely important to take a look at these individuals, not only the scope of this and not only the depth and breadth of the symptoms but also to try and have some correlate that actually is a path to physiological correlate," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

"We cannot be rushing, we have to be committed to timely access to active listening. If therapeutics strategies will be evaluated. They should follow the rigorous scientific criteria.," said Dr. Jose Biller, Loyola University Medical Center.

SEE ALSO | Medical imaging shows how COVID attacks the body

Prelimary research is that long term symptoms have shown up in 30% of COVID patients-with all kinds of additional complications from lost work days to bouts of depression. A major concern, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, is that COVID-19 could produce serious health problems long after initial symptoms are gone; including brain and heart problems.
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