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A growing number of people who recover from COVID-19 are experiencing long-term health problems. This includes younger patients without pre-existing conditions who had only mild symptoms with the virus. How are doctors and patients responding?
The COVID-19 disease is triggered by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and can affect multiple organs. The symptoms of the initial illness are now well known. But what about the long-term effects of coronavirus? Not everyone who gets COVID-19 makes a full recovery afterwards. A growing number of people are experiencing reduced physical and abilities and cognitive symptoms. One such patient is 31-year old junior doctor Maria. Five months after falling sick, she is still unable to work normally.
In October, Germany’s University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein launched the largest study to date on the long-term effects of coronavirus. Teams of doctors specialized in various fields of medicine are planning to examine several thousand former COVID-19 patients who have officially "recovered" from the virus. They’re looking in particular at the lungs, heart, kidneys and liver, as well as the nervous system and metabolism. Christopher Bley from Berlin would welcome the opportunity to be included in a study like that. The 35-year-old feels he isn’t getting the support he needs from doctors. Ever since the father of two contracted the virus, he has been battling shortness of breath. For a long time, he hoped he would heal naturally, but the problem persists.
Writer Nina Marewski from Frankfurt feels similarly let down by doctors. She says they either ignore her or don’t take her seriously. She has been writing about her experience with coronavirus online, and is giving a voice to other post-COVID "long haulers". This documentary accompanies three people who are struggling with the aftereffects of the virus. What do the health problems mean for them and how do they deal with the uncertainty about whether they will ever make a full recovery?