By MICHAEL MILLENSON
When powerful politicians confront a life-threatening diagnosis, it can change policy priorities.
In addition to President Trump and a slew of top aides, five U.S. senators and 15 members of the House of Representatives have now tested positive or been presumed positive in tests for Covid-19 as of Oct. 5, according to a running tally by National Public Radio (NPR).
In that light, the recent burst of coronavirus infections could accelerate three significant innovations affecting every Covid-19 survivor.
1) Post-Covid Clinics
Even seemingly mild encounters with the coronavirus can trigger a cascade of lingering health consequences. While “there is no consensus definition of post-acute Covid-19,” noted an Oct. 5 JAMA commentary, symptoms that have been reported include joint pain, chest pain, fatigue, labored breathing and organ dysfunction “involving primarily the heart, lungs and brain.”
A survey by Survivor Corps, a patient support group, and the Indiana University School of Medicine found that Covid “long haulers” often suffer from “painful symptoms…that some physicians are unable or unwilling to help patients manage.” A similar survey by the Body Politic Covid-19 Support Group concluded that Covid long-haulers face “stigma and lack of understanding [that] compromise access to health care and quality of support.”
“It’s a nightmare,” a coronavirus survivor in her 40s told me. (Like other long-haulers, she asked not to be named.)
The woman recalled going to the emergency room (ER) with tightness in her chest and trouble breathing. If someone barely touched her stomach, she screamed in pain. Her primary care physician eventually recommended she see a cardiologist and a gastroenterologist, but there was neither coordination nor urgency. As she waited a month for the gastroenterologist, “my stomach was bloating like I was pregnant, and it was hard to breathe. No one was listening to me.”
Enter “Post-Covid,” or “Covid-19 Recovery” clinics. The centers aim “to bring