Long COVID patients and advocates urge Congress to fund more research

WASHINGTON — Long COVID is affecting millions of people nationwide, leaving many of them with disabling health conditions.

This week, doctors and patients are urging Congress to fund more research to help them learn how to identify long COVID and treat it.

“There’s so much debt we’re having to incur just for the hope of being well one day,” said Cynthia Adinig.

Cynthia Adinig is one of those long COVID patients. She said before she got the virus in March 2020, she was a busy mom running two businesses, homeschooling her son and volunteering.

Now, she said she’s homebound with several disabilities and symptoms that impact every aspect of her life.

“It also hinders my ability to parent because a seven-year-old wants to go outside, and I can’t do that, or I won’t be able to eat the next day,” she said.

Adinig said she only leaves home for appointments or trips to the ER, but this week, she shared her story and the realities of long COVID with members of Congress.

“I’m standing here today thanks to a heavy regime of medications, but I still remain disabled, chronically ill and undertreated,” she said during her opening remarks to the congressional committee.

She’s urging federal lawmakers to provide assistance for long COVID patients.

“It’s a huge hurdle in even getting people to even attempt care that they need when they see how much money it’s going to cost or it’s a complete burden for them to seek repeat or seek second opinions,” she said.

Doctors say long COVID is still a medical mystery, and now there are upwards of 200 symptoms or more associated with it. They want more support for research.

“What are biomarkers, what are treatments, how can we help them,” said Dr. Monica Verduzco-Gutierrez, Chair at the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Texas Health San Antonio

She said they also need a bigger workforce tackling the long COVID crisis.

“When I see a patient, it sometimes takes an hour or longer, and I’m coordinating care with a lot of different specialists as well and trying to get everything done,” she said.

During the first year of the pandemic, Congress approved more than a billion dollars for long COVID medical research to NIH.