Is the risk of getting lung COVID decreasing? Here’s what experts say

The clue to this extraordinary possibility comes from tens of thousands of responses to US Census Bureau questionnaires showing a dwindling percentage of COVID survivors reporting long-term COVID symptoms β€” the lingering, often debilitating effects of the disease that studies have historically shown at about 19% of the COVID survivors.

Last June, the Census Bureau, in conjunction with the National Center for Health Statistics, added questions about long COVID to their “Household Pulse Survey,” a largely monthly online questionnaire launched in April 2020 to measure the impact of the pandemic.

The study defines long COVID as symptoms that persist for at least three months after a coronavirus infection. About 200 symptoms have been identified, of which deep fatigue, palpitations, neurological complications and digestive disorders are the most common.

On average, 58,794 COVID survivors nationwide have responded to each of the nine lengthy COVID surveys provided by the Census Bureau to date. A Chronicle analysis revealed a remarkable trend: a consistently lower number of people in each study reporting long-term COVID symptoms.

In June, 18.9% of respondents said they were “currently” experiencing long-term COVID. By the end of the year that had dropped to 11.3% and by February it had dropped to 10.8%.

In California, the percentage of people reporting current symptoms increased slightly in July and October, but otherwise mirrored the national trend, from 16.2% in June to 10.3% in February.

“Fascinating,” said Dr. Steven Deeks, a longtime COVID researcher at UCSF who was not involved in the studies. “These trends seem consistent with the anecdotal experience we and others have had.”

Research shows that people can get long-term COVID regardless of whether their initial infection was severe or mild. Scientists point to three likely causes: bits of virus that remain hidden in the body, persistent inflammation caused by the coronavirus, and autoimmunity β€” when the body’s own immune system turns against itself. These, in turn, can wreak havoc in the body months or even years later.

But is the virus’s “ability to cause COVID long-term waning?” Deeks asked. “That is indeed a question that this data poses.”

Leave a Comment