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  • As many as one out of every 5 COVID survivors has  “longCOVID, which means that even after they've  

  • killed off the actual virus, they continue  to feel likecrap. That's super unsettling,  

  • but it's definitely not unprecedented. Welcome to MinuteEarth.  

  • Like COVID, other respiratory diseases have  “longversions too. Babies who get RSV are  

  • way more likely to eventually get asthma. Lots  of people who had SARS more than a decade ago  

  • still have scars on their lungs. And as many as  a quarter of people who get the flu still have  

  • coughing fits and trouble breathing months  later. Lots of supposedly short-term viruses  

  • can become long-term problems, and it seems  like there are three different reasons why

  • The first is that when you get one of these  viruses, your body often sends out a bunch  

  • of proteins to your lungs; the proteins' job  is to irritate the area and draw in fluids,  

  • generally making life difficult for the virus. But  once the virus clears, the proteins are hard to  

  • get rid of. They sometimes end up sticking  around - and wreaking havoc - for weeks

  • The second reason forlongdiseases is your  immune system. Normally, it pumps out lots of  

  • different pathogen-fighting cells. But when  you're infected, your immune system switches  

  • to focusing on specialized virus-fighting  cells. After the infection is gone, though,  

  • it takes a while for the system to switch back to  a more general approach. During that time, even  

  • bacteria that your body could normally control  can run amok and cause all sorts of problems

  • And third, the specific tissue ravaged by  these respiratory viruses - the lining of  

  • the lungs - sometimes scars as it heals from  the infection, which can make your lungs less  

  • efficient at bringing in oxygen, permanentlyNeedless to say, this is a pretty scary result

  • But these examples are from other diseases; what  do they mean for long COVID sufferers? Well, we're  

  • seeing all three of these processes at work - with  some differences. COVID seems slightly less likely  

  • to lead to bad bacterial infections than other  viruses, which is great, but way more likely to  

  • leave behind trouble-making proteins in the lungswhich has sent lots of people back to the hospital  

  • after they think they've recovered. And because  COVID attacks lots of different cells, the virus  

  • can lead to long-lasting scarring not just in  the lungs, but also in the heart and the brain

  • But our previous experience with long  diseases means that we have some tools  

  • to fight all three of these long-term problemsFor example, doctors now know to look for - and  

  • treat - potential post-COVID bacterial  infections. They have also developed a  

  • drug to remove those pesky lung-inflammation  causing proteins AND another that causes  

  • cells - the ones in your lung lining, at least  - to regrow while limiting harmful scarring

  • Since the first people to getlongCOVID only  got COVID a couple years ago, we're still not  

  • exactly sure about its really long-term effects  - or why so many long haulers also have symptoms  

  • like fatigue and joint pain. But, hopefullythe head start we got from studying otherlong”  

  • diseases means that one day, the suffering  caused bylongCOVID will be long gone.

  • This video was made in partnership  with Bill Gates. Thanks Bill!

As many as one out of every 5 COVID survivors has  “longCOVID, which means that even after they've  

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