Biden administration opens new office to study long COVID response, NIH begins clinical trials
An estimated 7.7. million to 23 million Americans have long COVID.
The Biden administration announced Monday it is forming a new Office of Long COVID Research and Practice to study the condition and help those who have been diagnosed with it.
The office, which will be under the Department of Health and Human Services, "is charged with on-going coordination of the whole-of-government response to the longer-term effects of COVID-19," according to a news release.
"The Office of Long COVID Research and Practice will enhance efforts being undertaken across the U.S. government to improve the lives of those who continue to experience the long-term impacts of the worst public health crisis in a century," HHS Secretary Admiral Rachel Levine said in a statement.
"Bringing together the resources and expertise of federal, state, and local partners, patients, providers, researchers, and the business sector to answer the American people's most urgent calls to action," Levine said
Long COVID is a condition that occurs when patients still have symptoms at least four weeks after they have cleared the infection. In some cases, symptoms can be experienced for months or years.
The HHS estimates that anywhere from 7.7 million to 23 million Americans have developed long COVID after being infected with the virus.
Symptoms vary and can include fatigue, difficulty breathing, headaches, brain fog, joint and muscle pain and continued loss of taste and smell, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A CDC survey last year found 81% of adults with ongoing symptoms of COVID lasting three months or longer -- or four out of five adults -- are experiencing limitations in their daily activities compared to before they had the virus. Additionally, 25% said they were experiencing significant limitations.
It's unclear what causes people to develop long COVID but research is ongoing.
The HHS also announced Monday that the National Institutes of Health is launching long COVID clinical trials through the RECOVER Initiative, which seeks to understand, treat and prevent long COVID.
The new clinical trials will explore possible treatments for extreme fatigue, sleep disturbances, changes in body function and cognitive dysfunction,
"As our nation continues to make strides in combating COVID-19, it is crucial that we address the impact of Long COVID and provide resources to those in need," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. "Last year, President Biden called on HHS to coordinate the response to Long COVID. The Official establishment of the Long COVID Coordinating office and the launch of the RECOVER clinical trials solidifies this issue as an ongoing priority."