A virus mystery: Some can’t recover from COVID-19, even after a year

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Thousands of self-described “long-haulers” say their COVID-19 symptoms linger or redevelop out of the blue months after they first became infected with coronavirus. The condition affects an uncertain number of survivors in a baffling variety of ways.

Is it a condition unique to COVID-19, or just a variation of the syndrome that can occur after other infections? How many people are affected, and how long does it last? Is it a new form of chronic fatigue syndrome — a condition with similar symptoms?

Or could some symptoms be unrelated to their COVID-19 but a physical reaction to the upheaval of this past pandemic year — the lockdowns, quarantines, isolation, job losses, racial unrest, political turmoil, not to mention overwhelming illness and deaths?

These are the questions facing scientists as they search for disease markers, treatments and cures. READ MORE:

Making news today

  • The race is on to vaccinate as many Americans as possible against COVID-19, but a significant number of people in the U.S. are still reluctant to get the shots, even in places where they are plentiful.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance Friday to say fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S. without getting a COVID-19 test or going into quarantine. The guidance comes as the British government moved to ban international arrivals from Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan and the Philippines amid concerns over new virus variants.
  • Vaccine passports being developed to verify COVID-19 immunization status and allow inoculated people to more freely travel, shop and dine have become the latest flashpoint in America’s perpetual political wars, with Republicans portraying them as a heavy-handed intrusion into personal freedom and private health choices.
  • The fight to end the coronavirus’ devastation throughout California’s heartland extends to the Mexico border, where migrant farmworkers heading north to pick lettuce, broccoli, carrots and other crops are offered a vaccination as soon as they enter the United States. California is vaccinating farmworkers on a large scale by taking the shots to where they live and work, protecting a population disproportionately hard hit by the pandemic.

Expect to see more on these storylines

Christians will mark Easter amid lingering virus woes and as cases are still raging in many predominantly Christian countries, with coverage from around the world.

  • With a massive infusion of federal aid coming their way, schools across the U.S. are exploring how the funding can help them reopen and remedy the harms of the pandemic — and also to tackle problems that existed long before the coronavirus.
  • Haiti does not have a single vaccine to offer its more than 11 million people over a year after the pandemic began, raising concerns among health experts that the wellbeing of Haitians is being pushed aside as violence and political instability across the country deepen.
  • The Dutch government is temporarily halting AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccinations for people under the age of 60. The decision comes three days after authorities in Germany also stopped using the AstraZeneca’s vaccine in the under-60s.
  • Octogenarians in Tuscany, Italy, have watched in disbelief and indignation as lawyers, magistrates, professors and other younger professionals got vaccinated against COVID-19 before them, despite government pledges of prioritizing Italy’s oldest citizens. Even some of their adult children jumped ahead of them. By one estimate, Italy’s failure to prioritize the over-80s and those with fragile health conditions has cost thousands of lives.