The first time Savannah Brooks collapsed, five blocks from her home in Minneapolis, her boyfriend had to carry her home. She had just been infected with Covid, but had waited a week after the worst of her symptoms had subsided to take a walk in her neighborhood. She had received her booster shot four months prior.
To say that Savannah, 30, was in good shape before her illness is an understatement. A boxing instructor, she was fluent in MMA and kickboxing. But her central nervous system is now “frizzing”: her heart rate is dysregulated, she can pass out at a moment’s notice, she is crippled by fatigue and suffers from panic attacks.
This is a snapshot of life with long Covid.
Those numbers are stark, but they don’t offer the big picture. Left behind, largely unacknowledged, are the “long-haulers” who developed incapacitating symptoms associated with long Covid.
Our new series, Living with long Covid, was conceived to give people living with chronic Covid a voice. From the US to the UK, from Australia to Indonesia, from Brazil to India, we’ve asked our reporting teams across the globe to talk to long-haulers to document their experience. The illness has affected every facet of their lives, from their close relationships to their ability to work.
In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, the World Health Organization’s chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urged countries to launch “immediate” efforts to tackle the “very serious” global crisis.
The condition has been called a “mass disabling event”, and research backs this assertion. A meta-analysis found that, worldwide, 49% of Covid survivors reported persistent symptoms four months after diagnosis.
This summer, data released by the CDC revealed that one in 13 adults in the US have symptoms lasting three or more months after contracting Covid; 1 million Americans have been pushed out of work due to the illness. In the UK, the landscape also looks dire: it is estimated that nearly 2 million people live with long Covid, prompting questions about the number of Brits who haven’t returned to the labor force.
Time and time again, we’ve heard that one antidote on the road to recovery was finding community. We hope these stories can provide some solace to Guardian readers who have long Covid – and we are keen to hear from you, too.
Tell us about your experience; some of your replies will be published as part of our series.
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