Biden administration announces launch of HHS office focused on lengthy Covid research

A new office has been formed within the US Department of Health and Human Services to lead the nation’s response to the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Monday, HHS announced the formation of the Office of Long COVID Research and Practice to lead the federal government’s response to prolonged Covid, a sometimes debilitating condition marked by symptoms of Covid-19 that last weeks or months after initial infection. It is estimated that up to 23 million people in the US have developed long-term Covid.

In Monday’s announcement, HHS officials welcomed the launch of long-awaited clinical trials for long-term Covid patients through the National Institutes of Health’s RECOVER Initiative. Launched in 2021, the initiative is a $1.15 billion nationwide research program aimed at better understanding, treating and preventing prolonged Covid.

“As our nation continues to make progress in the fight against COVID-19, it is critical that we address the impact of Long COVID and provide resources to those in need,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in the message. “Last year, President Biden called on HHS to coordinate the response to Long COVID. The formal establishment of the Long COVID Coordinating office and the launch of the RECOVER clinical trials solidifies this issue as an ongoing priority.”

In May, the RECOVER Initiative published research that identified 12 symptoms that can reliably classify someone as having prolonged Covid: deterioration of health after mental or physical activity; fatigue; brain fog; dizziness; gastrointestinal symptoms; palpitations; changes in sexual desire or capacity; loss of or change in taste or smell; thirst; chronic cough; chest pain; and abnormal movements.

Overall, more than 200 symptoms are associated with prolonged Covid, and the condition can affect almost every system in the body, including the nervous, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, pulmonary and immune systems.

“The Office of Long COVID Research and Practice will increase efforts across the U.S. government to improve the lives of those who continue to experience the long-term consequences of the worst public health crisis in a century,” Adm. Dr. Rachel Levine, HHS assistant secretary for health, said in Monday’s announcement. “Bringing together the resources and expertise of federal, state and local partners, patients, providers, researchers and the business sector to answer the American people’s most pressing calls to action.”

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