JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As vaccines reduce the threat of severe illness and death from COVID-19, millions of people remain at risk of long-term symptoms of the disease, which scientists call "Long COVID."
These complications can affect children and adults.
Research is still limited on Long COVID and even the new Delta variant, but there are some studies out there.
Long COVID affects between 10% and 30% of people who catch the virus and includes those with mild or asymptomatic infections.
The lingering symptoms of COVID-19 can last weeks to months after infection. They include Brain fog, shortness of breath, fatigue and headaches.
“It's lower in the adolescent and the pediatric group, but it's still something that can occur for sure," Jacksonville infectious disease expert Dr. Mohammed Reza said.
Dr. Reza points to a United Kingdom study, which shows about 9.8% of children two to 11 years of age had at least one lingering symptom five weeks after recovering from COVID-19. The study also found 13% of children 12 to 16 years of age had at least one lingering symptom five weeks after recovering from COVID-19.
This research may not even include the Delta variant, Dr. Reza says, which is much more contagious than the Alpha variant.
“My concern is, as a parent and as an infectious disease doctor, we don't know enough about this Delta variant at this point," Reza explained. "Especially for children, and those that are not able to gain access to the vaccines.“
However, the good news is some initial research shows the vaccine seems to help fight off Long COVID symptoms after breakthrough infections, according to Reza.
He adds the fact that doctors haven’t seen large numbers of post-vaccination cases of Long COVID suggests that breakthrough infections are still relatively uncommon, and Long COVID after vaccination remains a relatively low risk.