UArizona Health Sciences to help study long-haul COVID

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 5:52 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - You’ve heard about it before: long-haul COVID. It’s when people suffer for weeks or months from side effects of COVID-19. Now, the University of Arizona Health Sciences is looking into why this is happening to millions around the world.

Difficulty breathing, never recovered smell or taste, even still requiring oxygen and mental fog are just some of the symptom of long-haul COVID.

“We don’t understand how it occurs, we don’t know how to help people get over it faster, we don’t know maybe even how to prevent it,” said Dr. Janko Nikolich-Žugich, from the Department of Immunobiology at UArizona.

According to the CDC, more than 46 million people in the US alone have been sick with COVID. Even just a small percentage of those who may have long COVID symptoms means millions of people are still suffering around the nation. At least 10%, and upwards of 30%, of people who’ve contract COVID are estimated to experience long-haul COVID.

“We had meetings with patient representatives. It was devastating,” said Nikolich-Žugich. “One colleague of mine got it, and 15 months out she hasn’t been able to leave her apartment without the oxygen bottle.”

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will have more than two dozen teams across the US to look into the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of long-haul COVID. and hopefully spearhead cures for those with it. The University of Arizona Health Sciences and teams from NAU, ASU, Banner and more will delve into the topic. They’ll enroll hundreds to their study.

“The problem is that there have been people who had severe COVID and came out with this, but there have been people who had mild COVID, or even asymptomatic COVID and still came down with long term consequences, and that is baffling. That is something we really need to study,” said said Nikolich-Žugich.

They’ll open up applications for the study in December.

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