Published May 1, 2023
On May 5, 2023, the World Health Organization ended the global emergency status for COVID-19, more than three years after its original declaration. Ending the emergency status could mean many things, including termination of international collaboration and funding efforts.
WHO published a plan advising countries how to live with long COVID and acknowledged that COVID will continue to be a significant public health problem, despite the ending of the global emergency status.
With the combination of vaccination and infection, the U.S. population now has a high level of immunity to COVID-19. The immune system can now recognize later variants of COVID-19, such as Omicron, because of structures called germinal centers.
Germinal centers are structures located in our lymph nodes that form temporarily in response to infection or vaccination. Researchers aim to learn how to optimize the function of germinal centers to better protect against future variants and allow population-level protection to be maintained as the COVID-19 virus evolves.
Anxiety and depression may play a role for some patients with lingering long COVID symptoms, according to recent findings from researchers at University of California (UCLA). Neil Wenger, MD, professor of medicine, states: “This perception of cognitive [thinking] deficits suggests that affected issues — in this case anxiety and depression — appear to carry over into the long COVID period.” This is not to say that long COVID is all in one’s head, rather that this added component of anxiety or depression can be exacerbated by the disease.
A study led by the medical team from University Medical Center (UMC) in the Netherlands discovered that after cognitive behavioral therapy, COVID-19 patients not only had fewer symptoms, but also functioned better both physically and socially. The improvements persisted, even after six months, in patients exhibiting persistent fatigue. These patients reported significantly less fatigue and improved concentration post-treatment. The research emphasizes that it’s important to continue to seek other effective treatments, but that cognitive behavioral therapy offers some benefits to certain long COVID symptoms.
According to researchers for the RECOVER initiative, adults with obstructive sleep apnea were 75% more likely to experience long COVID symptoms than those without the disorder that pauses breathing while asleep. Exactly how sleep apnea may contribute to long COVID symptoms is not fully understood, but researchers have some theories, including shared risk factors for sleep apnea and long COVID.
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