Out of the 15 million Covid-19 cases worldwide, there have been more than 8 million recoveries so far even in the absence of a vaccine, which is good news. Many survivors have opened up about their experiences during treatment and after discharge.
42-year old Emiliano Pescarolo was hospitalized for 17 days when he was infected with the virus. When he was able to return home, he expected a quick and smooth recovery process but was proven wrong when it lasted weeks that he was still having a hard time breathing. What was once a simple stroll to him before, now seemed like climbing a mountain. Pescarolo turned to a rehabilitation facility in Genoa and found out that there are many more Covid-19 survivors like him who were having similar experiences.
Coronavirus affects not just the respiratory system of the human body. It penetrates a lot of the cells in the different bodily systems and makes us more vulnerable to even the slightest of infections. Basically, its mechanism of turning our own immune system against us is its most terrifying impact.
Hospitals in Europe aren’t that much packed anymore with active cases. However, recovered patients and even those who weren’t declared positive of Covid-19 have admitted to still feeling unwell. There have been circulating stories online of people who were experiencing the aftermath of the disease in the UK. The COVID recovery rehab center in Genoa had been trying to get in touch with as many survivors as they could, and according to Dr. Piero Clavario, director of the said center, the institution’s team had already checked up on more than fifty patients. Their consultations focus more on the long-term physical and mental toll that the virus had taken on the people.
Half of the patients were in need of psychological evaluation, and 15% have developed post-traumatic stress disorder. A team of medical professionals consisting of cardiologists, physicians, psychologists, and neurologists was put together to conduct various tests and evaluations on the patients. This is also one of the lingering mental health effects of Covid-19.
It was a shocking discovery that patients who showed no respiratory problems and were not subjected to incubators or ventilators had difficulty in even the slightest physical activity. That’s why most rehab centers involve assisting people in gym exercises. Pescarolo also admits to having slight cognitive problems. He is struggling with retention of short-term memories, a common problem with other Covid-19 recoveries.
A “Long COVID” support group was formed on Facebook last May, and more than 8,500 people have joined. The members aimed to seek medical attention and services for their post-COVID complications. LongCovidSOS is also another organization fighting for recognition, respect, and provision of medical care for COVID survivors.
Another puzzling fact about the virus is that despite all these tests to determine whether or not a person is positive, results can be misleading. Claudia, an ICU nurse in London, said she tested negative in the swab tests but was positive for antibodies.
One of the administrations for the support group, Margaret O'Hara became severely unwell in late March. She felt COVID-like symptoms, but she preferred to stay at her home because her test did not turn out positive for the disease. X-ray results showed no signs of infection. She suffered the symptoms for eight weeks, and when she started to get better, even the lightest physical activity took a toll on her, and she has rushed to the emergency room again early July. O'Hara also stated having experienced the same psychological and mental disturbances. She is one of the patients who weren’t given priority just because they did not spend the entirety of their treatment process in the hospital.
She said that there may be an existing false notion that those who were not admitted had manageable symptoms and did not require the same level of medical attention to those who were. Another similar testimony was of Grace Dolman, a doctor in Cambridge.
More health professionals are banding together to draw attention to people like them, who are experiencing the aftermath of Covid-19 recovery.
The UK is now actively making moves to support this issue, and a study is currently ongoing for the investigation of the complications of Covid-19 post-hospitalization. The more we learn about the extent of the danger that this virus poses, the better our preparations will be and it will be of significant contribution to the overall system that is being used in handling the disease.