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“A Huge Problem and Major Crisis”: Avindra Nath on Long COVID at the IACFS/ME 2021 Conference
“We have a huge problem and a major crisis on our hands.” Avindra Nath – on long COVID
(This summary was taken from notes)
Dr. Avindra Nath gave the keynote talk at the 2021 IACFS/ME conference. Nath leads the clinical arm of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). He’s been steeped in the central nervous system effects of post-viral disorders for decades and it shows.
The truth is – and Dr. Nath has referred to this before – that we’ve had a huge problem on our hands for quite a while. In a recent paper, Nath asserted that “Undiagnosed neuroinflammatory diseases carry a huge burden with devastating consequences”, and decried how unprepared the medical system is for a virus that affects the central nervous system. He called COVID-19 a “crisis for neurology”.
On the other hand, neurologists – perhaps the most resistant of all specialists to ME/CFS – have been something of a crisis for ME/CFS patients for a long time. It’s good to see a respected and influential neuroscientist fully embrace chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and long COVID.
The “crisis” is not just about ME/CFS – it also concerns all the other post-infectious illnesses that have been virtually ignored by the research community for decades. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is simply demonstrating in spades what’s been known and ignored for years: that infections can, even after they’ve been “resolved”, have severe long-term consequences. Nor is it just the post-infectious aspect. I’ve been told that the NIH has put pathogen research on the back burner for years as well. Now that we’re seeing COVID-19 spin-off numerous post-infectious conditions, perhaps that will change.
Nath referred to a fascinating paper by Taquet which demonstrates: a) the many different effects infections can have; (b) how dangerous the coronavirus is; and (c) the kind of type of illuminating research that is pouring into the long-COVID field.
Taquet compared the neurological and psychiatric records of 236,000 survivors of COVID-19 to people who had come down with influenza and other respiratory diseases. The study showed that the coronavirus produces the most complications, influenza is next, and then come other respiratory infections.
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