As coronavirus cases wane and many Americans return to life with less restrictions and masking, many COVID long haulers are calling for better resources to understand the severe side effects of the virus.
Charlie McCone is one Californian who remains plagued by COVID-19 and is advocating for people in his position. In March 2020, he was a healthy 30-year-old who played tennis, biked 10 miles a day and worked full-time as a non-profit professional. Then he tested positive for the virus.
Now more than two years later McCone still suffers from severe fatigue, shortness of breath and struggles to walk for 10 minutes at a time. He remains severely house-bound and relies on his partner to take care of him.
He told “Inside the Issues” host Alex Cohen he is not alone in these experiences and that long COVID has become a growing public health crisis in the United States.
“Many people are getting worse and we have no treatments or therapies and we're just trying to do everything we can to get through the day-to-day,” McCone said.
It’s unclear how many Americans suffer from long-term symptoms, but most experts agree that long-haul COVID-19 is not rare and occurs in at least 10%–20% of people who have had the virus.
McCone says people struggling with long COVID have had their lives upended by the chronic illness and that a return to normalcy is impossible without treatment options. He argues the government must do more to help long-term victims of the virus.
“We are now well aware of what the government and pharmaceutical industries and public health institutions are able to do when they dedicate themselves to getting something done, like the vaccine,” McCone added.
Earlier this year, the National Institutes of Health announced plans to fund a $1.15 billion initiative to research long COVID over the next four years. The Biden administration has also made a $20 million investment to prevent, detect and treat long COVID in the 2023 budget.
McCone acknowledged that these are steps in the right direction, but long-haulers need more immediate treatment instead of extended research into the disease.
“There is a major investment that has been made. However, there is no sense of urgency on responding to some of the most compelling science and research that has been published over the past two years,” McCone added.
He argues long-term COVID patients need quicker research trials and better treatment options to be able to live their lives again.
“Why are we waiting on acting upon this? It has made all of this suffering start to feel just that more difficult.”
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