The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 700,000.
It’s a grim and frustrating milestone as the nation confronts a surge in infections and deaths driven by the delta variant and the refusal of millions of Americans to get vaccinated.
The last 100,000 deaths were recorded in just 3 1/2 months and occurred when vaccines were available to anyone over the age of 12 who wanted them.
That’s deeply frustrating to doctors, public health officials and the American public because vaccinations overwhelmingly prevent deaths, hospitalizations and serious illness.
As medical experts and patients suffering from so-called “long-COVID” try to figure out why symptoms can linger for months, or even beyond a year, a new study sheds light on how common they may actually be.
The University of Oxford-led research, published Tuesday in PLOS Medicine, looked at the likelihood of long-haul symptoms and compared it to that of influenza.
After looking at the anonymized health records of 273,618 COVID-19 survivors over a 6 month period, the researchers found that 37% of patients had one or more long-COVID symptoms beyond the 3-month mark – 1.5 times more likely than with influenza.
The study also found that some of the long-COVID patients reported not suffering from a symptom in the first three months.
“Research of different kinds is urgently needed to understand why not everyone recovers rapidly and fully from COVID-19,” said Oxford Professor Paul Harrison, who headed the study. “We need to identify the mechanisms underlying the diverse symptoms that can affect survivors. This information will be essential if the long-term health consequences of COVID-19 are to be prevented or treated effectively.’”