Not enough is being done to help patients with long COVID symptoms, says Dr. Eric Topol, a senior author on a recent review article published in Nature Reviews Microbiology.
At least 65 million people worldwide have suffered from long COVID, according to researchers. Symptoms include heart problems, blood clots, fatigue, trouble breathing, autoimmune disorders, and even diabetes.
But not much has been done to help patients who experience long COVID, says Topol.
"I wish we had these answers," he told Yahoo. "Right now, we are long on mechanisms and short on treatment. That's the summary of everything."
The paper, which incorporated more than 200 peer-reviewed studies, suggests that there are likely multiple, potentially overlapping causes of long COVID.
"Mechanistic studies are generally at an early stage and although work that builds on existing research from postviral illnesses such as ME/CFS [myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome] has advanced some theories, many questions remain and are a priority to address," it read.
A higher prevalence of long COVID has been reported in certain ethnicities, including people of Hispanic or Latino heritage.
Topol said patients know more than doctors about long COVID.
"There isn't any question of that. Unfortunately, today, too many people who have bona fide long COVID, who are suffering — they'll go to a doctor, and the doctor will just dismiss it," he told NPR.
"And where there are long COVID clinics, they're oversubscribed and hard to get in. So the lack of the medical communities dealing with this inconvenient truth — we have to get over that. We've got to support these folks. We've got to come up with better treatments. And what can't be emphasized enough: There's only one way of preventing long COVID, which is not to get COVID in the first place. And that's another reason not to let our guard down as the pandemic and the virus continues its course."
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