NEW DELHI: With several re-infection cases being reported across India, the risk of people getting infected with “Long Covid” looms large. Furthermore, people are fearing that re-infection and “Long Covid”, also known as post Covid syndrome, are the same. Allaying the fears of people, experts claim that they are different and the infections have different symptoms.
Explaining it in simple language, Ravindra Mehta, pulmonologist, told The Sunday Guardian that post Covid syndrome is a conglomeration of symptoms’ leftover effects of the virus, whereas “re-infection” is when the patients contract the disease for the second time.
Stating that some virus diseases have chronic problems, T. Jacob John, virologist, told The Sunday Guardian, “Coronavirus is a peculiar disease. Long Covid is a part of Covid disease. The more severe the pathology, the more likelihood of post Covid symptoms and the less severe the pathology, less probability of the syndrome. Every disease has a chronic phase. As far as Covid is concerned, the disease has lung disease, fatigue etc after the recovery of a patient.”
According to Pradeep Rangapa, Consultant Intensive Care Physician, Columbia Asia Hospital, there is post Covid syndrome when the infection persists in the body for more than three weeks. Rangapa told The Sunday Guardian, “Major symptoms of post Covid syndrome are fatigue (38%), breathlessness or respiratory issue and headache or muscle ache.”
Dr Sameer Bansal from Apollo Hospital, who was in Covid duty, contracted the disease in August. He had recovered and was discharged after 21 days of hospitalisation. However, after the discharge, he developed muscle ache and low energy level.
He told The Sunday Guardian, “After a little bit of research, I realised that I have post Covid syndrome. I lost almost 4 kg due to the disease.”
Explaining why the symptoms persist in the body, Bansal said, “When the virus attacks a body, it gets attached to angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) receptor, which is a hormone and weakens the receptors and blood cells. As it takes 120 days to form new red blood cells, the virus persists in the body and causes post Covid syndrome. This is just a hypothesis and research is underway to understand the real reason for Long Covid.”
Rangapa told The Sunday Guardian, “As many as 10% of recovered patients show post Covid symptoms. Patients who have symptoms for more than 12 weeks enter into chronic Covid-19. The reasons for the post Covid syndrome are severity of viremia, and relapse of symptomatology.”
He further said that elderly people, especially with co-morbid conditions, are susceptible and vulnerable to these symptoms.
Talking about measures to eradicate this disease, Jacob John said, “Once the different vaccines are available, it is important to eradicate and neutralise this virus like we did it with polio. Already, we have spent billions of dollars to develop vaccines, now we need to spend another few billion dollars to eradicate this virus completely.”