The Biden administration Tuesday announced a new policy initiative directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to create a nationwide action plan on long-term effects of COVID-19. This initiative was announced with the hopes of moving towards a future where COVID-19 can be better managed and protected against.
Long-term effects of COVID-19, known as “long COVID,” are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems individuals may experience after being first infected with the virus. According to the American Medical Association, anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of patients can experience long COVID after recovering, even if they never showed any symptoms to begin with. The new policy initiative aims to fund and study research for Americans who suffer from long COVID symptoms, a number estimated to be in the range of 7.7-23 million people.
As of right now, over 950,000 individuals have died from COVID-19 in the US. More than 200,000 children have lost a parent or caregiver to the disease. There are estimates that at least one in three people affected by COVID-19 will develop symptoms that last longer than four weeks, with many resulting in severe disability. In the memorandum, the White House said:
As a complex condition that can affect multiple organ systems, Long COVID may require care and coordination across multiple medical specialties . . . The Administration recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in new members of the disability community and has had a tremendous impact on people with disabilities.
The action plan, which builds upon the RECOVER Initiative at the NIH, aims to increase funding to study the origins and effects of long COVID on patients. The RECOVER Initiative is a $1 billion research study conducted to understand, prevent, and treat long COVID and post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC), a term scientists use to study consequences of COVID infections. Among other things, the action plan hopes to promote clinician education, expand long COVID clinics across the US, and enhance healthcare coverage for long COVID care.
Currently, the seven-day average of new daily COVID-19 cases in the US is 29,286, with 593 daily deaths. The CDC reports that 65.6 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with 77.1 percent having received at least one dose.