The data from the World Health Organization is hopeful. Eighty percent of COVID-19 cases have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, have no known symptoms.
But as with all things COVID, reality is more complicated.
There’s a class of COVID patients cropping up more and more as the pandemic lingers. They’re called long-haulers.
Who are long-haulers? People who develop long-term and ongoing complications after recovering from the initial COVID infection.
“Now we’ve seen this with other viral infections but not to this extent. I mean we’re really seeing a number of reports of people who report long-term fatigue, headaches, vertigo (interestingly enough), difficulties with cognition, with cardiorespiratory fitness,” said Greg Poland, virologist and infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic.
These long-haul symptoms can last weeks or months. Some patients have yet to walk across a room without getting winded. Other side effects range from hair loss, night sweats and blurry vision to blood clots and brain fog.
Which patients will end up long-haulers is still unknown. But people with severe and mild cases of COVID have reported lasting effects.
Dr. Poland says that because the disease is so new and most of the focus is still on COVID infections, doctors are just beginning to turn their attention to long-haulers.
“What will that treatment look like? I think it really is dependent on what kinds of pre-existing medical problems somebody has and what kinds of symptoms and signs they’re demonstrating now,” said Dr. Poland.