The cure for COVID-19 is full of guesswork

Medical equipment is still strewn about the home of Rick Lucas, 62, nearly two years after he came home from the hospital. He picks up a spirometer, a device that measures lung capacity, and takes a deep breath—though not as deep as he’d like.

However, Lucas has come a long way for someone who spent more than three months on a ventilator because of the coronavirus.

“I’m almost normal now,” he said. “I was thrilled when I was able to walk to the mailbox. Now we’re walking all over town.”

Dozens of major medical centers have set up specialized COVID-19 clinics across the country. The crowdsourcing project has been accounted for More than 400. But there is no standard protocol for treating COVID-19. Experts are laying out an extensive web of treatments, with only a few ready for formal clinical trials.

It is not clear how many people have had symptoms of COVID-19. Estimates vary widely from study to study—mostly because of the different definitions of the long-running coronavirus itself. But the most conservative estimates still count millions of people with the condition. For some, the chronic symptoms are worse than the initial bout of coronavirus. Others, like Lucas, were on death’s door and experienced roller coaster recoveries, much worse than expected, even after a long hospital stay.

Symptoms vary greatly. Lucas was suffering from brain fog, fatigue and depression. He would start to regain his energy, then go to try light chores and end up in the hospital with pneumonia.

It was not clear what illnesses arose from prolonged ventilator use that referred to the mysterious condition called long Covid.

“I wanted to go to work four months after I got home,” Rick said as his wife and primary caregiver, Cindy, laughed.

“I said, ‘You know what, just get up and go. You can’t drive. You can’t walk. But go do an interview. Let’s see how that works,'” Cindy recalls.

Rick started working earlier this year, taking on short-term assignments in his old field as nursing home manager. But he is still partially disabled.

Why has Rick mostly recovered while so many never shake symptoms, even years later?

“There is absolutely nothing anywhere that is clear about COVID-19,” he said. Dr. Stephen Dix, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco. “We have a guess as to how frequently this will happen. But for now, everyone is in a no-data zone.”

Researchers such as Deeks are trying to determine the underlying causes of the condition. Some theories include inflammation, autoimmunity, and so-called microclots, virus remnants left in the body. Dix said the institutions need more money to set up regional centers of excellence to bring together doctors of various specialties to treat patients and research cures.

Patients say they are desperate and willing to try anything to feel normal again. They often post personal anecdotes online.

“I’ve been following these things on social media, and I’m looking for a home trial,” said Dix.

The National Institutes of Health promises to make significant progress soon with recovery initiativeWith the participation of thousands of patients and hundreds of researchers.

“Given the wide and varied impact of the virus on the human body, it is unlikely that there will be a single cure and a single treatment.” Dr. Gary Gibbons, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, told NPR. “It’s important that we help find solutions for everyone. That’s why there will be multiple clinical trials over the coming months.”

Meanwhile, tension is mounting in the medical community over what appears to be a tight approach to treating COVID-19 ahead of large clinical trials. Some doctors are reluctant to try treatments before research supports them.

Dr. Christine Englund, who is overseeing more than 2,000 patients with COVID-19 at the Cleveland Clinic, said a single-patient combination of trials could muddy the waters for research. She said she encouraged her team to stick with “evidence-based medicine.”

“I’d rather not just be a one-off experiment with people, because we really need to get more data and evidence-based data,” she said. “We need to try to put things into some kind of protocol going forward.”

It’s not that it lacks urgency. Englund had symptoms of COVID-19. For months after falling ill in 2020, she said, she felt terrible, “literally napping on my office floor in the afternoon.”

More than anything, she said, these long-running coronavirus clinics need to validate patients’ experiences with their illness and give them hope. Try to stick to proven remedies.

For example, some patients with COVID-19 develop pots A syndrome that makes them dizzy and their hearts race when they stand up. Englund knows how to treat these symptoms. With other patients, it is not so simple. Her longtime clinic focuses on diet, sleep, meditation, and slowly increasing activity.

But other doctors are willing to throw all kinds of treatments at the wall to see what might stick.

In Lucas’ home in Tennessee, the kitchen table barely holds pill bottles of nutritional supplements and prescriptions. One is a drug for memory. “We discovered that his memory was worse [after taking it]Cindy said.

However, other treatments seem to have helped. Cindy asked her doctor about the possibility of her husband taking testosterone to boost his energy, and after doing research, the doctor agreed to give him a shot.

He said, “People like me are getting a little off my sled, looking for things I can try.” Dr. Stephen Heymanna pulmonologist who treats Rick Lucas at the Long COVID Clinic at Ascension Saint Thomas in Nashville.

He is experimenting with drugs that are seen as promising in the… addiction cure and drug combinations used for Cholesterol and blood clots. He considered becoming a guinea pig himself.

Heyman has had his ups and downs with his long illness. At one point, he thought he was over his memory lapses and labored breathing, then he contracted the virus again and felt more exhausted than ever.

“I don’t think I can wait for someone to tell me what to do,” he said. “I’m going to have to use my experience to try and find out why I’m not feeling so well.”

Kaiser Health News

This article has been reprinted from Courtesy of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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