WASHINGTON (AP) – Faced with the long-lasting shadow of the epidemic, President Joe Biden has ordered the push for a new national study on long covid, as well as instructed federal agencies to help patients deal with mysterious and debilitating conditions.
Biden on Tuesday commissioned the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate an urgent new initiative across the federal agency, which is already conducting research at the National Institutes of Health.
He instructed federal agencies to assist patients and physicians by providing the best science-based practice for the treatment of chronic covid, maintaining access to insurance coverage, and protecting the rights of workers dealing with the uncertainty of discomfort. Of particular concern is the impact on mental health.
Long covid is a catch-all term for a hydra-headed condition whose symptoms may include cerebral palsy, recurrent shortness of breath, pain, and fatigue. It is roughly estimated that it affects 1 in 3 people who recover from COVID-19, although the severity and duration of symptoms vary. Despite intensive investigation, the causes of chronic covid are not well understood, and treatment focuses primarily on helping patients cope with their symptoms as they try to rebalance their daily routines.
The White House further acknowledged that long-term cowardice appears to be a disability, meaning patients may be entitled to protection from federal laws that prohibit discrimination based on health conditions and call for accommodation to allow people to lead productive lives.
A statement from the White House stated, “The administration acknowledges that the COVID-19 epidemic has become a new member of the disability community and has had a profound effect on people with disabilities.”
Some independent experts praised the administration’s comprehensive plan but noted a lack of a timeline for results.
Former Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr Liana Wayne said: “The long-term covid is real, it’s a significant threat and a very important step for the Biden administration to recognize that it needs to do more.” And commentators on the epidemic. “The emphasis on long-term covid treatment, and acknowledging that it can be a source of ongoing disability, is long overdue.”
A prominent lawyer for Kovid patients has felt an improvement.
“This is the first initiative to truly meet the needs of the affected people,” said Diana Berent, founder of Survivor Corps, a support group that connects patients with public and private researchers.
Advocates have long called for the government to “create a command center for Covid.” “Until now, it didn’t exist.”
“I see this as a global, comprehensive approach to a highly thorny issue that previously received a scatter shot method,” Barent said.
Medical research has so far led to theories about the cause of long covid, but there is no single root. A theory revolves around chronic infections or virus residues that can cause inflammation in the body. Another possibility is the response of the autoimmune system that accidentally invades normal cells. Researchers are also investigating the role of small clots.
The White House says Biden’s order will be expanded and will build on the $ 1 billion research already underway at the NIH, called the Recovery Initiative. One goal is to get 40,000 people in the study to sign up with and without long covid. In the run-up to that effort, Health and Human Services will coordinate a government-wide research plan on the long covid.
HHS will also provide a report to the nation on the long covid later this year. “Millions of Americans can fight the effects of long-term health,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Besser. “The real virus is affecting Kovid long after we escape.”
Biden’s order focuses mainly on treatment. An HHS unit called the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality will investigate best practices and find useful guidelines for doctors, hospitals and patients. The Department of Veterans Affairs, which already has 18 facilities running the long Covid program, will act as an incubator of ideas and strategies. The administration is seeking 20 million from Congress for “centers of excellence” to create templates for care.
Dr. Fernando Carnavalli of New York’s Mount Sinai’s Center for Post-Cowid Care says he understands the allegations that the government has not made enough progress on long COVID.
“For our culture today, which needs an answer yesterday, it’s just harder,” Carnavalli said. “In chronic disease, that’s not how it works in general. We have other examples, from HIV, the answers have not come yet.”
Finally, the administration says its plan will provide direct assistance to patients by securing access to insurance coverage and extending the umbrella of civil rights protection to the people of Long Covid. In line with Biden’s focus on reducing racial and ethnic inequalities in health care, emphasis will be placed on minority communities that have suffered high losses from COVID-19.
The Federal Health Program, which could serve as a personal insurance model, will look for ways to cover and ensure that treatments for long-term covid are paid. “The administration is working to make covid care accessible as long as possible,” said a White House overview of Biden’s plan.
AP Medical author Lindsay Tanner contributed to this report.