Metrofocus: July 26, 2022

A METROFOCUS SPECIAL TWO-NIGHT EVENT-THE LONG COVID HEALTH CRISIS:  NIGHT 2

Our two-night special coverage on long COVID continues, and this evening we focus on the possible causes and debilitating effects of this condition.  Why do some people with long COVID have symptoms which seem to last so long?  What is being done to help the millions of Americans now suffering from it, and what more can we be doing?  Joining us again for this discussion are  Kevin Devine, a Staten Island resident who after two years is still struggling with long COVID; Diana Berrent, a Long Island activist, advocate, and founder of Survivor Corps, the largest long COVID support and advocacy group in the nation; and Dr. Rainu Kaushal, Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Research at Weill Cornell Medicine, who is spearheading a multimillion-dollar study on long COVID and is one of the medical leaders selected for the NIH Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) initiative.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, OUR TWO-NIGHT SPECIAL COVERAGE ON LONG COVID CONTINUES WITH THE POSSIBLE CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF THIS DEVASTATING DISEASE, WHY IT LASTS SO LONG, AND WHAT'S BEING DONE TO HELP THE MILLIONS OF AMERICANS NOW SUFFERING FROM IT?

'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪♪

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- IS.

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.

TONIGHT IS PART TWO OF OUR SPECIAL EDITION COVERAGE OF LONG COVID.

THE CONDITION MILLIONS OF AMERICANS ARE SUFFERING FROM WHOSE SYMPTOMS JUST NEVER SEEM TO GO AWAY.

LAST NIGHT WE HEARD DIRECTLY FROM TWO NEW YORKERS ABOUT HOW SERIOUS THIS CONDITION CAN BE.

TONIGHT WE'LL SHIFT GEARS AND FOCUS ON WHAT IT IS ABOUT THE DISEASE THAT'S CAUSING THESE SYMPTOMS TO PERSIST.

THERE'S STILL SO MUCH UNKNOWN ABOUT THIS DISORDER THAT IT OFTEN LEAVES PATIENTS AND DOCTORS WITH MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS, QUESTIONS SUCH AS, WHY DOES IT LAST SO LONG?

WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO DEVELOP THE CONDITION?

WHAT IS BEING DONE TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE SUFFERING?

AND WHAT MORE CAN WE BE DOING?

WE'LL TRY TO TACKLE SOME OF THESE QUESTIONS THIS EVENING, AND JOINING US ONCE AGAIN TO HELP US DO THAT ARE KEVIN DEVINE, A LONG COVID SURVIVOR, DIANA BERRENT, THE FOUNDER OF THE COVID SURVIVOR GROUP SURVIVOR CORPS, AND A SURVIVOR HERSELF, AND DR. RAINU KAUSHAL DEAN OF -- AT CORNELL NEW YORK PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US ONCE AGAIN.

IT'S A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU HERE.

DOCTOR, AS I SAID WE'RE GOING TO FOCUS ON THE SCIENCE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE AND THE MEDICAL ASPECTS TODAY.

I'LL START WITH THIS -- WHAT EXACTLY IS LONG COVID, AND WHAT ARE THE CHANCES THAT SOMEONE WHO GETS COVID WILL DEVELOP LONG COVID?

THANK YOU.

AND THANK YOU AGAIN FOR HAVING US BACK TONIGHT.

SO, LONG COVID, AS YOU MENTIONED EARLIER, IS A CONSTELLATION OF 200 SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS.

SOME OF THE THINGS KEVIN TALKED ABOUT ARE VERY COMMON.

THE BREATHLESSNESS, FATIGUE -- WE THINK ONE IN TWO PATIENTS WITH LONG COVID HAS FATIGUE.

ANXIETY.

THERE IS A CONSTELLATION OF CHEST SYMPTOMS THAT PEOPLE COMPLAIN ABOUT, CHEST PAIN AND SO ON.

AND ALL OF THESE ARE VERY, VERY COMMON IN LONG COVID.

OUR BEST SENSE OF HOW FREQUENT LONG COVID IS IS THAT IT'S SOMEWHERE BETWEEN 10 TO 30% OF PATIENTS WHO DEVELOP COVID GO ON TO GET LONG COVID, SO SOMEWHERE BETWEEN 1 IN 10 -- PATIENTS GO ON TO DEVELOP LONG COVID.

OUR SENSE ACROSS THE COUNTRY IS 1 IN 13 AMERICANS HAVE SUFFERED OR ARE CURRENTLY SUFFERING FROM LONG COVID.

I TELL YOU, DOCTOR, THAT'S A LOT MORE THAN I KNEW BEFORE I READ THIS STUFF TO DO THESE PROGRAMS, AND IT'S SCARY, I HAVE TO SAY.

BUT LET ME ASK YOU, IS THERE A SECTOR OF THE POPULATION THAT IS -- THAT WE'VE ALREADY IDENTIFIED AS BEING PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE THE LONG COVID?

AND MIGHT THERE BE A GENETIC COMPONENT TO LONG COVID?

CAN SOMEBODY BE PREDISPOSED GENETICALLY TO GET IT?

THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION.

THE NIH, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH, WHICH IS THE LARGEST FUNDER OF RESEARCH ACROSS THE U.S., HAS INITIATED A SET OF GRANT ACTIVITIES AND RESEARCH ACTIVITIES AT SCALE CALLED RECOVER, AND WHAT RECOVER AIMS TO DO IS TO, AS RAPIDLY AS POSSIBLE, ELUCIDATE WHAT IS HAPPENING IN LONG COVID, WHAT MAKES SOMEBODY MORE PREDISPOSED TO IT, WHO IS MORE PREDISPOSED TO IT, AND HOW DO WE OPTIMALLY TREAT IT?

OUR EARLY SENSE OF GENETIC SUSCEPTIBILITY IS THAT THERE IS SOME GENETIC SUSCEPTIBILITY, BUT WE DON'T KNOW WHO YET OR WHAT DRIVES THAT.

WHAT WE THINK IS HAPPENING IN LONG COVID, OUR BEST SENSE IS THAT FOR A PATIENT, ONE OF TWO THINGS IS HAPPENING.

EITHER THEY HAVE AN ONGOING RESERVOIR OF VIRUS.

IN CHILDREN, FOR EXAMPLE, WE THINK THAT IS IN THEIR DIGESTIVE TRACK, AND THEIR BODY IS CONTINUING TO FIGHT THE VIRUS.

AND WHAT WE SEE AS LONG COVID SYMPTOMS ARE THE EFFORTS OF THE BODY TO CLEAR THE VIRUS.

THE OTHER THING WE THINK VERY MUCH IS HAPPENING IS AN INFLAMMATORY RESPONSE.

WE KNOW THAT COVID, LIKE MANY OTHER CONDITIONS, CAUSES AN INFLAMMATORY RESPONSE, CAUSES INFLAMMATION OF THE TISSUES, AND WE THINK THAT PART OF WHAT HAPPENS IN CERTAIN PATIENTS WITH LONG COVID IS THE CONSEQUENCE OF THAT INFLAMMATION.

SO, IS THAT WHY -- AS I SAID IN THE LAST PROGRAM, I KNOW A NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE LONG COVID, BUT THEY GO TO THE DOCTOR AND THEY GET TESTS, AND IT SEEMS TO SHOW THAT THEY'RE PERFECTLY WELL, THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THEM, BUT THEY'RE SUFFERING THESE TERRIBLE SYMPTOMS.

IS IT BECAUSE WHAT'S HAPPENING BENEATH THIS HEALING PROCESS THAT IN EFFECT CAUSING THEM TO HAVE LONG COVID, IS THAT THE ANSWER TO THAT?

I THINK SO.

I THINK WE'RE SEEING TWO BIG TYPES OF LONG COVID.

ONE IS BRAND-NEW SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS.

SO KEVIN'S DESCRIPTION, FOR EXAMPLE, OF FATIGUE, BRAIN FOG, BREATHLESSNESS, THOSE ARE EXAMPLES OF BRAND-NEW SIGN OR SYMPTOMS.

THOSE ARE HARD TO MEASURE AS KEVIN HIMSELF MENTIONED.

I DO THINK THERE'S A VERY LARGE CLUSTER OF PATIENTS WHO HAVE THESE NEW SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS, AND THEN WE HAVE NOTICED THAT THERE IS A GROUP OF PATIENTS WHO HAVE EXISTING CONDITIONS THAT WORSEN.

SO, FOR EXAMPLE, WE ARE SEEING PATIENTS WITH DIABETES WHO GO FROM BEING ABLE TO CONTROL THEIR DISEASE WITH A MEDICINE TO NEEDING INSULIN.

OR WE SEE PATIENTS WITH RENAL FAILURE WHO GO FROM BEING ABLE TO CONTROL THEIR MEDICINE WITHOUT DIALYSIS TO NEEDING DIALYSIS.

SO I DO THINK THERE'S THESE TWO DIFFERENT CLUSTER OF PATIENTS, AND THE EXPRESSION IS SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT IN THEM.

YEAH.

SO KEVIN, ONE OF THE MOST FRUSTRATING THINGS FOR THE PEOPLE WHO I KNOW WHO HAVE DEVELOPED LONG COVID, INCLUDING OUR ASSOCIATE PRODUCER, WHO'S LISTENING TO US NOW, IS THE FACT THAT IT SEEMS SO RANDOM, THAT PEOPLE WHO GOT COVID ALONG WITH THEM, OR THE PERSON WHO ACTUALLY GAVE IT TO THEM DON'T HAVE LONG COVID, BUT HE DOES.

IT'S REALLY FRUSTRATING TO HIM.

I WONDER IF THAT'S BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE.

DO YOU EVER HAVE THE MOMENT WHERE YOU SAY, WHY THE HELL ME?

EVERY DAY.

EVERY DAY.

I HAD A NICE LIFE.

I WAS WORKING TWO JOBS, SO THAT WASN'T THE GOOD PART, BUT I HAD TWO JOBS.

WENT TO WORK EVERY DAY.

I HAD MY WIFE, DAUGHTER, SON.

HI A FAMILY.

I HAD EVERYTHING GOING ON.

LIFE WAS THE WAY IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE OR THE WAY YOU THINK IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE.

TRYING TO GET TO 62 TO RETIRE, TRYING TO GET MY PENSIONS.

YOU KNOW, YOU HAD IT ALL FIGURED OUT.

I WAS 56 AT THE TIME.

I WAS LIKE, I'M KILLING MYSELF, BUT THERE'S A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL.

AND THEN BOOM.

BOOM.

I WAS -- I LOST MY LIFE, TO BE HONEST.

I MEAN, YOU KNOW, MOST PEOPLE WHO WERE ON A VENTILATOR DID NOT SURVIVE.

MOST PEOPLE ON A VENTILATOR FOR 48 DAYS DIDN'T SURVIVE.

I DID.

THAT'S BY THE GRACE OF GOD.

I TELL PEOPLE STORIES, ONE, MY MOM DIED TWO MONTHS BEFORE.

I SWEAR INFORMATIONS HEAVEN SAYING, DON'T TAKE MY BOY.

LEAVE HIM.

PROBABLY DIDN'T WANT ME UP THERE TO BOTHER HER ANYMORE, BECAUSE SHE FINALLY GOT AWAY FROM ME.

AND I HAD A DAUGHTER IN A WHEELCHAIR WITH CEREBRAL PALSY.

DIDN'T WANT TO TAKE ME AWAY FROM HER.

I'M TELLING THAT STORY.

THAT'S HOW I LIVE WIT EVERY DAY IN MY WORLD.

HE KEPT ME HERE FOR A REASON.

AND DOING THESE THINGS WITH YOU GUYS AND WITH THE DOCTOR AND DIANE, GETTING ALL OUT, MAYBE SOMEBODY'S GOING TO WATCH THIS AND SAY, HE GOT OFF THE MAT.

I'M GOING TO GET OFF THE MAT.

OR, HIS ISSUES ARE MY ISSUES.

OR, MAYBE I DON'T HAVE LIFE AS BAD AS THIS GUY, AND HERE HE IS HAPPY, JOVIAL, HAPPY TO BE ALIVE, HAPPY TO BE OUT THERE.

YOU KNOW, AND FOR THE MILLION OF PEOPLE THAT HAVE PASSED IN THIS COUNTRY ALONE, MY HEART BLEEDS TO YOU, BECAUSE THEY NEVER GOT TO SAY GOOD-BYE TO THEIR LOVED ONES.

THAT'S THE PART.

DIANA, RANDOMNESS IN LONG COVID IS NOT JUST WHO GETS IT, BUT IT'S ALSO THERE'S A RANDOMNESS ABOUT THE SYMPTOMS.

WE WERE TALKING ABOUT SURVIVOR CORE, WHERE PEOPLE EXCHANGE INFORMATION.

A LOT OF PEOPLE GO THERE TO TALK ABOUT THEIR SYMPTOMS AND FIND OUT IF OTHER PEOPLE HAVE SYMPTOMS LIKE THEM, AND I'M SURE YOU HAVE A LOT OF INFORMATION ABOUT THAT.

BUT BEFORE I GET INTO THAT DETAIL, YOU SPOKE ABOUT SURVIVOR CORPS TO SOME DEGREE YESTERDAY.

EXPLAIN AGAIN, GIVE US THE REDALES ABOUT WHAT SURVIVOR CORPS WAS MEANT TO DO, HOW IT EVOLVED, WHAT IT DOES NOW, AND DOES IT PROVE, PERHAPS, THE IDEA THAT PEOPLE SHOULDN'T CHECK OUT THEIR -- SHOULDN'T TRY TO FIGURE OUT THEIR HEALTH CONDITION ONLINE?

THE WORST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU COULD EVER GIVE SOMEBODY IS TO GET THEIR MEDICAL INFORMATION ONLINE.

I MEAN, THAT IS LITERALLY THE WORST.

WE'RE NOT IN USUAL TIMES, AND WE'RE IN A SITUATION WHERE THIS WAS BORN OUT OF A TIME WHEN WE WERE IN LOCKDOWN.

THERE WAS NO OPPORTUNITY TO GO TO DOCTORS.

AND IF YOU WENT TO A DOCTOR, THEY HAD NEVER HEARD OF LONG COVID.

IT WASN'T REALLY AN APPRECIATED SYNDROME OR ACKNOWLEDGED.

AND SO PEOPLE CAME TOGETHER IN THIS GROUP THAT I CREATED IN MARCH OF 2020.

IT'S A VERY ACTIVE FACEBOOK GROUP, AND WE HAVE A WEBSITE, SURVIVORCORPS.COM WITH A NEWSLETTER THAT GOES OUT.

AND WE MAINTAIN ALL KINDS OF ---OUR WEBSITE HAS THE ONLY DYNAMIC MAP THAT EXISTS OF ALL THE POST-COVID CARE CENTERS AROUND THE COUNTRY, AND WE CONNECT OUR MEMBERS WITH PHYSICIANS AND SCIENTISTS TO GET THEM INTO THESE STUDIES, THESE TRIALS.

AND WHILE I'M QUITE FAMILIAR WITH THE NIH RECOVER INITIATIVE -- I SIT ON THEIR COMMITTEES AND I HAVE SINCE ITS INCEPTION.

I WOULD NOT COUNT ON THAT FOR IMMEDIATE ANSWERS ON ANYTHING.

IT IS A VERY, VERY BUREAUCRATIC SLOW-MOVING OPERATION.

SO A LOT OF THE RESEARCH IS HAPPENING ON A PATIENT LEVEL.

AS THEY SAY, IF YOU NEED AN EXPERT, FIND A PATIENT.

SINCE WE HAVE SO MANY MILLIONS OF POSTS IN SURVIVOR CORE THAT HAD BEEN BUILDING SINCE MARCH OF 2020, WE ARE ABLE TO SEE SIGNALS THAT PHYSICIANS ARE NOT ABLE TO SEE, BECAUSE THEY'RE JUST NOT SEEING IN THEIR CLINICAL PRACTICE ENOUGH PEOPLE TO RECOGNIZE THESE TRENDS, TO SEE THE PATTERNS THAT WE'RE ABLE TO RECOGNIZE AND THEN TELL THE WORLD ABOUT.

SO IN JULY OF 12020 WHEN THE CDC ANNOUNCED THAT THERE WERE -- THEY SHIFTED THEIR NUMBER OF SYMPTOMS FROM 4 TO 11, WE PUT OUT A PAPER THAT SAME DAY THAT LISTED OVER 100 SYMPTOMS, AND THAT WAS IN SUMMER OF 2020.

SO, IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR INFORMATION, IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHETHER SOMETHING IS RELATED TO LONG COVID, DO A KEYWORD SEARCH IN SURVIVOR CORPS.

IF YOU SEE IT COME UP 10, 20, 30 TIMES, PROBABLY NOT COVID.

IF YOU SEE IT OVER 100 TIMES, YOU'RE ON TO SOMETHING.

THAT'S WHERE WE'VE SEEN THERE ARE DENTAL IMPACTS A HUGE PERCENTAGE OF OUR MEMBERSHIP ARE LOSING TEETH.

THEY'RE CRACKING, CRUMBLING, FALLING OUT.

WE WERE THE FIRST ONES TO TELL THE WORLD ABOUT COVID TOES, BECAUSE IT'S A CLOTTING DISEASE.

WE WERE THE FIRST TO TELL ABOUT ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION, BECAUSE IT'S A CIRCULATION ISSUE.

TREMORS.

SO WE ARE IN THE BUSINESS OF BRINGING ATTENTION TO THE REAL-LIFE LIVED EXPERIENCES OF PATIENTS.

THAT'S A GREAT SERVICE.

BUT DOCTOR, YOU'RE ACTUALLY ONE OF THE DOCTORS WHO'S DOING RESEARCH ON LONG COVID.

WHAT ARE YOU FOCUSING ON IN YOUR RESEARCH?

AND WHAT ARE YOU DISCOVERING?

YEAH, ABSOLUTELY.

SO, WE ARE FUNDED THROUGH RECOVER, AND RECOVER HAS MULTIPLE ARMS.

AND THE ARM THAT I'M VERY INVOLVED IN IS THE ELECTRIC HEALTH RECORD ARM, WHERE WE HAVE ASSEMBLED DATA ON ALMOST 100 MILLION AMERICANS.

THERE ARE ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORDS MATCHED TO SOCIAL DATA, ENVIRONMENTAL DATA AND OTHER SOURCES OF DATA.

AS A SCIENTIST, OF COURSE I LOVE MY RESEARCH AND I COULD TALK ENDLESSLY ABOUT IT, BUT THE PIECE THAT I THINK MIGHT BE MOST HELPFUL TO OUR AUDIENCE TONIGHT IS SOME EARLY WORK THAT WE'VE DONE LOOKING AT HOW LONG COVID CLUSTERS.

WHY IS CLUSTERING IMPORTANT?

BECAUSE IF YOU CAN UNDERSTAND AS A CLINICIAN, WHEN YOU SEE A PATIENT OR A PATIENT CAN UNDERSTAND THAT I LOOK LIKE THESE OTHER PATIENTS, IT HELPS WITH PROGNOSIS, IT HELPS WITH TREATMENT.

IT HELPS WITH UNDERSTANDING WHAT OTHER CONDITIONS MIGHT HAPPEN.

AND WHAT OUR TEAM HAS DISCOVERED THROUGH THE USE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND MACHINE LEARNING IS THAT THERE ARE FOUR MAIN CLUSTERS THAT WE ARE SEEING OF LONG COVID.

ONE IS AFFECTING OLDER MEN, PARTICULARLY OLDER MEN THAT WERE AFFECTED VERY EARLY ON WITH COVID, AND IT'S A LOT OF WORSENING OF EXISTING DISEASE -- CARDIAC DISEASE, MEANING HEART DISEASE, RENAL DISEASE MEANING KIDNEY DISEASE, AND SO ON.

THAT CLUSTER OF PATIENTS, THEIR SYMPTOMS SEEM TO GO ON FOREVER.

THE SECOND BIG CATEGORY IS YOUNGER PEOPLE, OFTEN WOMEN, WHO HAVE RESPIRATORY CONDITIONS, SLEEP DISORDERS AND ANXIETY AS PRIMARY HALLMARKS OF THEIR CONDITION.

THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT THIS IS A GROUP WHERE WE'RE SEEING SYMPTOMS RESOLVE FAIRLY QUICKLY.

OVER A PERIOD OF FIVE OR SIX MONTHS.

AND SO THAT'S VERY REASSURING.

THE THIRD IS A GROUP THAT SEEMS TO HAVE MUSCULO SKELETAL ISSUES, BRAIN ISSUES, BRAIN FOG.

THINGS SLIP FROM THEIR HANDS.

THEY HAVE ACHES AND PAINS, FEEL PINS AND NEEDLES, AND THEY HAVE THE COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT AND THE BRAIN FOG THAT I THINK WE HEAR SO MUCH ABOUT.

THE FINAL GROUP THAT I FEEL LIKE GETS THE LEAST PRESS TIME IS A GROUP THAT HAS DIGESTIVE SYSTEM ISSUES, SO THINGS LIKE NAUSEA.

YOUNG PEOPLE SAY, I FEEL NAUSEOUS AND JUST CAN'T KICK THIS.

OR I CAN REFLUX AND I CAN'T KICK THIS.

AND OFTEN RESPIRATORY SYMPTOMS AGAIN SOME THESE CLUSTERS ARE HELPING US AS WE THINK ABOUT HOW WE CAN TREAT AND PARTICULARLY HOW WE CAN SHARE INFORMATION WITH PATIENTS ABOUT WHAT THIS MIGHT LOOK LIKE FOR THEM.

AND ABOUT THE ISSUE OF LONG COVID ENDING, YOU KNOW, I HAVE READ DOCTORS -- OTHER DOCTORS HAVE DONE THEIR RESEARCH WHO SAY, LOOK, LONG COVID IS NOT LIKE LYME DISEASE.

IT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT WILL LAST FOREVER.

IT'S SOMETHING THAT WILL, IN MOST CASES, END.

BUT COVID-19 HAS ONLY BEEN AROUND FOR A LITTLE OVER TWO YEARS.

HOW DO THEY KNOW THAT?

THEY DON'T.

THEY DON'T.

WHAT WE ARE SEEING IS THERE IS A CLUSTER OF PATIENTS WHOSE SYMPTOMS SEEM TO RESOLVE RAPIDLY OVER A PERIOD OF WEEKS.

AND THEN WE SEE PATIENT WHO IS SEEM TO CONTINUE ON FOR MONTHS.

I THINK SIX MONTHS IS A PRETTY GOOD TIME PERIOD WHERE A LOT OF THOSE PATIENTS CONTINUE TO IMPROVE OR BEGIN TO IMPROVE.

AND THEN WE HAVE PATIENTS WHO ARE, YOU KNOW, TWO YEARS OUT NOW, AND WE'RE NOT SEEING IMPROVEMENTS YET.

AND SO -- AND THEN, YOU KNOW, THE STORY OF THE RELAPSES.

WE HEAR THAT A LOT.

I GOT BETTER AND SUDDENLY I GOT WORSE AGAIN.

HMM.

SO, KEVIN, HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU ABOUT REINFECTION?

GIVEN WHAT YOU WENT THROUGH, AND YOU TOLD US YESTERDAY IT WAS KIND OF HARROWING IN MANY RESPECTS -- 40 PLUS DAYS IN A COMA.

OH, MY GOODNESS.

IS THAT SOMETHING THAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT?

YES.

AND THE REASON WHY IS -- AND THE DOCTOR JUST SAID TO YOU -- THEY DON'T HAVE ANSWERS.

THERE'S NO ANSWER.

IT'S JUST GOING TO COME BACK AGAIN.

WILL IT COME BACK AGAIN?

WILL THERE BE ANOTHER INFECTIOUS HICCUP AGAIN?

WE DON'T KNOW.

THE SCARIEST THING IS WE REALLY DON'T KNOW WHERE THIS ORIGINALLY CAME FROM.

THIS DIDN'T COME FROM THE SKY.

DIDN'T FALL FROM THE SKY.

OH, NOW WE GOT COVID.

I WAS ON THIS EARTH FOR 56 YEARS.

AGAIN, ORIGINALLY IT WAS CORONAVIRUS.

TO ME CORONA WAS A BEER.

IT WAS NOT A VIRUS.

SO HERE WE ARE, WENT FROM THAT TO A COVID VIRUS, WHERE A MILLION PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY ALONE HAVE DIED, AND ARE STILL DYING TODAY FROM IT.

WHERE DID IT COME FROM?

WHERE DID IT COME FROM?

WHY DID IT HAPPEN?

WHERE DID IT COME FROM?

NOBODY SEEMS TO HAVE AN ANSWER FOR THAT.

AND BECAUSE OF THAT REASON, IF IT WAS CHEMICALLY PRODUCED AND RELEASED -- I'M SAYING IT.

NOBODY ON THE PANEL IS.

I'M SAYING IT.

CAN IT HAPPEN AGAIN?

IF THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED THE FIRST TIME, CAN IT HAPPEN AGAIN?

OF COURSE IT COULD.

OF COURSE IT COULD.

BECAUSE WE NEVER FIGURED OUT WHERE IT CAME FROM THE FIRST TIME.

SO.

SO IT COULD HAPPEN.

BUT I WANT TO STAY WITH YOU.

ARE YOU -- YOU WENT TO THE DREW BARRYMORE SHOW IN A STUDIO FULL OF AN AUDIENCE, AND YOU AND DREW WERE TALKING WITHOUT MASKS ON.

IS THAT SOMETHING THAT YOU WOULD HESITATE TO DO NORMALLY, OR ARE YOU NOT THAT CONCERNED ABOUT REINFECTION, EVEN THOUGH YOU KNOW -- YOU MADE THE POINT, THAT IT'S A REAL THING.

OH, I AM ALWAYS, ALWAYS THOUGHTFUL OF IT.

BUT I GOT ALL MY SHOTS, I GOT MY BOOSTER, SO I'M FOLLOWING WHAT SCIENCE IS TELLING US.

I'M DOING WHAT THEY'RE TELLING ME TO DO.

NOW, IF THEY ARE NOT TELLING ME THE RIGHT INFORMATION, SHAME ON THEM.

BUT I GOT MY BOOSTERS.

I WAS TOLD, YOU DON'T NEED THEM YOU'RE SO FULL OF ANTIBODIES YOU DON'T NEED YOUR SHOTS.

YEAH, WHEN YOU ALMOST DIE, YOU'LL GET YOUR SHOTS.

AND THAT'S A POINT I WANTED TO ASK THE DOCTOR -- DO PEOPLE WHO HAVE -- WHO HAD COVID AND MAY HAVE STILL LONG COVID, DOES THEIR IMMUNE SYSTEM IMPROVE?

OR IS THEIR SYSTEM WEAKENED?

ARE THEY MORE OR LESS VULNERABLE TO INFECTION?

IT'S AN EXCELLENT QUESTION.

I DON'T THINK WE HAVE THE ANSWER.

BUT I WOULD POINT OUT WHAT IS PROBABLY OBVIOUS, THAT YOU CAN ONLY DEVELOP LONG COVID IF YOU HAVE COVID, AND IN ADDITION TO THE VACCINES, WHICH ARE TERRIFIC -- FOUR VACCINES IF YOU'RE OVER 50.

THREE IF YOU'RE BETWEEN 5 AND 49, LIKELY TO BE FOUR PRETTY SOON.

TO BE COGNIZANT OF MASKING AND CROWDED SITUATIONS AS WELL.

YEAH, YEAH, WE'LL TALK ABOUT THAT IN A SECOND.

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT CHILDREN.

HOW SUSCEPTIBLE ARE CHILDREN TO LONG COVID, DO WE KNOW?

SO, LESS SUSCEPTIBLE THAN ADULTS, IT SEEMS, BUT THAT MAY BE PART AND PARCEL OF THE FACT THAT FEWER CHILDREN WERE INFECTED WITH THE EARLY VARIANTS, AND THE OMICRON VARIANTS, WE STILL HAVEN'T SEEN THE FULL EXPRESSION OF LONG COVID.

WE JUST HAVEN'T HAD ENOUGH TIME.

DIANA, I'M SURE THERE'S A LOT OF PARENTS WITH CHILDREN -- I'M NOT SURE, I'M GUESSING THERE'S PARENTS OF CHILDREN OR ADOLESCENTS WHO HAVE GOTTEN LONG COVID.

WHAT ARE THEY SAYING?

WHAT ARE YOU LEARNING ABOUT THAT?

UNFORTUNATELY WE DON'T KNOW ENOUGH.

AND, YOU KNOW, THESE SYMPTOMS ARE LOOKING VERY MUCH LIKE ADULT COVID.

I KNOW MUCH LESS ABOUT THE PEDIATRIC PORTION AS WELL AS PHYSICIANS.

BEST THING IS TO BE CAREFUL AND AVOID IT ON YOUR CHILDREN'S BEHALF.

DOCTOR, JUST LAST WEEK, PRESIDENT BIDEN, WE LEARNED WAS REINFECTED WITH COVID.

SO, LET'S TALK ABOUT THE POLICY PERSPECTIVE OF LONG COVID.

IT'S A DIFFERENT WORLD THAN IT WAS AT THE BEGINNING THAN IT WAS WHEN KEVIN AND DIANA WERE INFECTED.

THE RESTRICTIONS AND REGULATIONS, MOST OF THEM ARE NO LONGER IN PLACE, AND WHERE THEY ARE IN PLACE, LIKE MASKS IN THE SUBWAYS, THEY'RE LARGELY IGNORED.

I HAVE THE SENSE BY DOING TO THE SUBWAY, GOING TO THE GYM, THAT PEOPLE THINK THE COVID REALLY IS BEHIND US.

OBVIOUSLY IT ISN'T, IS IT?

I THINK THAT'S RIGHT.

I DON'T THINK COVID'S BEHIND US, BY I ALSO THINK THAT COVID FATIGUE IS VERY, VERY REAL.

I THINK EVERYONE WANTS TO GET BACK TO LIFE AS NORMAL, AND I THINK THAT'S VERY, VERY UNDERSTANDABLE.

I THINK THE OTHER THING THAT'S HAPPENED IS THAT THE SEVERITY OF ILLNESS WITH COVID HAS GENERALLY DECREASED.

THERE ARE OF COURSE EXCEPTIONS, BUT BY AND LARGE, THE SEVERITY OF ILLNESS HAS ALSO GONE DOWN, SO IF YOU LOOK IN NEW YORK CITY, FOR EXAMPLE, THE NUMBER OF INFECTIONS HAS INCREASED DRAMATICALLY.

AND THE NUMBER OF HOSPITALIZATIONS OVER THE LAST MONTH HAVE GROWN 25%. BUT WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT IS THAT THOSE ARE NOT HOSPITALIZATIONS FOR COVID.

PATIENT COMES IN WITH APPENDICITIS, HAVING THEIR ROUTINE PREOP, AND OH, BY THE WAY, INCIDENTALLY THEY'RE POSITIVE FOR COVID.

SO THE OVERALL SEVERITY OF THIS ILLNESS DECREASED IN THE ACUTE PERIOD, BUT OF COURSE WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS FOR LONG COVID.

BUT YOU KNOW, I DIDN'T KNOW AS MUCH ABOUT LONG COVID AS I DO NOW, PREPARING FOR THIS.

IF I HAD KNOWN THAT IT MIGHT BE 1 IN 5 INSTEAD OF 1 IN 1,000 OR 1 IN 100,000, WHICH I PROBABLY WOULD HAVE SAID IT WAS, I WOULD CERTAINLY NOT BELIEVE THAT COVID WAS BEHIND US.

BUT THE THING IS, WHEN PEOPLE -- WHEN I SEE ARTICLES OF THE CONCERN OF COVID, THEY SELDOM TALK ABOUT LONG COVID.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS, DOCTOR?

AND I WANT TO ASK DIANA THE SAME QUESTION.

MY SENSE IS WE JUST DON'T KNOW ENOUGH YET ABOUT LONG COVID.

WHAT HAPPENED WITH COVID IS OUR SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY GALVANIZED INTERNATIONALLY IN UNPRECEDENTED WAYS.

WE'VE NEVER SEEN A VACCINE DEVELOP THAT QUICKLY.

WE'VE NEVER SEEN THERAPEUTICS DEVELOP THIS QUICKLY, AND WITH LONG COVID, IT'S BEEN A LITTLE BIT SLOWER.

PARTLY BECAUSE I THINK THERE IS LESS ACUITY, RIGHT?

PEOPLE ARE NOT DYING.

AND SO THERE'S AN URGENCY, BUT THAT URGENCY IS LESS ACUTE.

PART OF IT IS WHAT KEVIN MENTIONED -- YOU CAN'T MEASURE THIS.

THERE'S A LOT OF PATIENTS WHO SAY, I HAVE THESE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS, BUT THERE'S MORE PATIENTS THAT YOU CAN'T MEASURE THAT IN, AND THAT BECOMES HARDER TO QUANTIFY AND TO GALVANIZE THE SAME TYPE OF RESPONSE, AND WE NEED THAT RESPONSE.

THIS IS A VERY REAL SET OF ILLNESSES.

DIANA, DO YOU THINK THE WORD ART LONG COVID IS, FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHAT PEOPLE ARE TELLING AND YOU'RE SEEING IN YOUR FORUMS, DO PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT LONG COVID?

IS THE WORD GETTING OUT?

WHAT MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE IF NOT?

WELL, WE NEED A HUGE RAMP UP OF OUR RESEARCH, AND WE NEED IMMEDIATE FUNDING.

YOU KNOW, THERE ARE ACTS STUCK IN CONGRESS.

WE NEED FUNDING FOR THIS RESEARCH TO HAPPEN, AND WE'RE REALLY AT A STANDSTILL IN TERMS OF OUR UNDERSTANDING.

THIS SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN A SURPRISE.

THIS SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN A SMOCK, AND WE HAVE LIVING IN A HISTORICAL BUBBLE IN TERMS OF THE CONTEXT OF LONG COVID.

SO MANY VIRUSES HAVE LONG SEQUELLA.

LONG POLE LOW.

AIDS IS HIV.

SPANISH FLU LED TO --

15 SECONDS.

SORRY TO CUT YOU OFF.

IT'S A SEVERE DISEASE AND IT NEEDS MUCH MORE ATTENTION, AND WE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN SURPRISED.

ALL RIGHT, WELL, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO END IT THERE.

SORRY WE DON'T HAVE A THIRD PART TO THIS PROGRAM, BECAUSE THERE'S SO MUCH WE STILL NEED TO TALK ABOUT, BUT THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH.

IT'S BEEN VERY HELPFUL, I'M SURE, FOR OW AUDIENCE AS WELL.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.

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