Keller @ Large: CDC report shows our knowledge of COVID-19 still a work in progress
BOSTON - "The pandemic is over," said President Joe Biden last fall during a "60 Minutes" interview. And since then, the signs of public concern with the COVID-19 virus - masking, testing and distancing - have all but vanished.
But for those who've dropped COVID-19 risk from their list of things to worry about, here's a wake-up call. Without fanfare, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has warned medical professionals who issue death certificates that long COVID, previously defined as an unusual lingering of COVID-19 symptoms, can "have lasting effects on nearly every organ and organ system of the body weeks, months and potentially years after infection," and urged certifiers to consider whether deaths were "due to long-term complications of COVID-19, even if the original infection occurred months or years before death."
Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, a former Harvard faculty member who heads the COVID Task Force at the New England Complex Systems Institute, told WBZ-TV he was stunned to spot this new guidance buried in a routine CDC publication.
"This 'weeks, months and years' statement, especially on death certificates, is the very first time I've ever read this," he said. "Previously CDC just said, 'Oh, your symptoms may last a long time.' But your underlying cause of death years from now, months from now, could actually be still due to COVID."
With a new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association reporting the death rate of long COVID sufferers is more than double that of patients without COVID-19, Dr. Feigl-Ding says it's time for people with any of the 21 COVID-19 risk factors cited by the CDC to realize the danger hasn't vanished, even if the masks have. It's "a huge wakeup call that the CDC honestly should have put out a larger, louder alarm about," he says.
This episode is a reminder that our knowledge of COVID-19 is still very much a work in progress. And while politicians - acutely aware of the palpable COVID-19 fatigue that's overtaken the culture - may have moved on, the virus has not, with consequences we're only beginning to understand.
for more features.