UVA Health making long COVID research a priority as public health emergency ends

Thursday, May 11 marks the official end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 2:50 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Thursday, May 11 marks the official end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, but experts at UVA Health say there is still a lot of work to be done, especially when it comes to long COVID.

Mattie Smith lives in Tazewell County and suffers from long COVID. She says she had to drive three hours to get the help she needed.

“I sought treatment, but for several months was given no diagnosis and no answers,” Smith said. “There are a lot of people in my area that don’t have the gas money or the time off to make these long trips to seek specialist appointments, so that lack of care availability is certainly a barrier.”

UVA Health says it wants to make long COVID a priority.

“We have scientists working to design the next generation of COVID vaccines to prevent COVID and long COVID altogether. Some are developing treatments to prevent the long haul of pulmonary complications and other potential therapies for their inevitable reality,” UVA Medical Center CEO Wendy Horton said.

Senator Tim Kaine and Representative Don Beyer are also trying to put legislation in place to find solutions.

“We’re trying to connect the dots on what treatments worked for whom to educate providers to know what to look for, and how to care for COVID patients,” Beyer said.

Beyer says UVA’s long COVID clinics are a step in the right direction, and the opening more clinics like them across the country would be beneficial.

“We need to make sure that our primary care doctors have the evidence-based medicine to provide great practice so that they can treat their patients with things that we know help them,” said Doctor Kyle Enfield with UVA Health.

Doctors studying long COVID say they need more treatment and trials to find long term solutions.

“We’re putting dollars in whether it’s to communicate with providers, employers, and everyday folks just like me who are dealing with long COVID. We need more research,” Sen. Kaine said.

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