Published October 1, 2023
In August of 2022, University at Buffalo and UBMD Physicians' Group launched the Western New York Long COVID Registry. Some key elements of the registry include connecting people with research opportunities, connecting with registry participants and groups in the community, and implementing follow up surveys to track participant's experience with long COVID. We are providing support for members of the registry and want to help people who might not know help is available.
“There is a bidirectional aspect to the registry — it is not just gathering information; we are educating,” says UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Associate Director Sanjay Sethi, MD. “The education aspect is important, [especially] about unproven treatments that may not work and may also cause potential harm.”
Now that a year has passed, the research team is focused on analyzing the collected data.
Jennifer S. Abeles, DO, says, “One of our goals is to share that information with everyone on the registry. They have supported us in providing their information, and now we want to look back and say, 'What do we know after year one?'”
The UBMD Long COVID Recovery Center, located on the fourth floor of the Conventus Center for Collaborative Medicine on High Street, is up and running. With staff in place, and an available social worker and community health worker from the Buffalo Urban League, we are committed to providing support to long COVID patients and have the ability to address the mental and emotional toll that long COVID also brings, plus help patients stay on track with their management plan.
A research team with NIH funding, partly through the RECOVER Initiative, conducted a study of more than 250 people and measured levels of various immune cells and markers in their blood. Participants included people who had been infected with SARS-CoV-2 and uninfected people
The resulting data suggests that three biological changes may contribute to long COVID:
“These findings are important,” says David Putrino, PhD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who works on the research team. “They can inform more sensitive testing for Long COVID patients and personalized treatments for Long COVID that have, until now, not had a proven scientific rationale.”
The results of this research are just the beginning. These findings tell researchers something about the underlying disease of Long COVID, which can lead to the suggestion of potential therapies in future research.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the new COVID-19 variant, EG.5, was responsible for 29.4% of cases in the United States at the end of the September. EG.5 is a descendant of the Omicron variant but isn’t much different from other recent strains. EG.5 does not cause symptoms that are different than other subvariants; however, it does have one new mutation in its spike protein that can potentially evade immunity to the virus. The updated COVID vaccine is recommended to protect against, and provide immunity towards, the new variant.
The newest COVID-19 vaccine is an updated vaccine that targets the new COVID-19 variants. Although many are referring to the updated vaccine as a booster, the shot is the first of what will become an “annual COVID-19 shot” that is revamped every year similar to the seasonal flu shot. About 95% of the population already has some degree of immunity from prior infection or vaccination, but immunity has waned over time and the virus has mutated. The new vaccine has common side effects, including:
It is safe to get the updated COVID vaccine and the seasonal flu shot at the same time and both are recommended.
This October, the Western New York Long COVID Registry reached 1,000 participants. We want to thank you, the Western New York community, for sharing your experiences. Together, we are learning more about long COVID, and gaining a better understanding about the condition.
If you had COVID-19 and would like to participate, enter the registry and begin filling out the questionnaire.
If you have already participated, feel free to share with others who may be interested.
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