Bernie Sanders wants to spend $10BILLION on long Covid ‘moonshot’ operation – but experts say condition is hugely exaggerated

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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  • Long covid moonshot would allocate $1 billion per year for a decade to research
  • Doctors are skeptical about long covid and broad definition of 200 symptoms
  • READ MORE:  Doctors should stop using the term long Covid, research suggests

Far-left Senator Bernie Sanders has proposed a massive investment in research into long Covid, a condition that many experts remain unconvinced is the great public health threat people claim.

Sanders, from Vermont, hopes to establish a $10 billion long Covid moonshot project to speed up research and create a long Covid patient database for doctors to share information with each other.

His proposal would also create a centralized committee partly made up of actual long Covid patients to oversee research grant disbursements and the status of the research the government is funding.

The CDC said in 2022 that seven percent of Americans reported having ever experienced long Covid, around 18 million.

But doctors have said that overly broad definitions of the condition—an umbrella term for some 200 different symptoms— has led to a great over-exaggeration of the risks and how common it is, leading to many misdiagnoses.

Sen Sanders’ proposed long Covid moonshot would allocate $1 billion over 10 years to research and development of treatments. The proposal is still in committee, though, and will need to advance before it goes to the full floor for a vote

Long Covid is a constellation of symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, headache, trouble sleeping, changes in smell or taste, neck pain, constipation, irregular heartbeat, and many more.

However, many experts have said the long-term symptoms some patients experience following infection are no different from those caused by other viruses, such as flu. 

A recent study found that patients who’d been hospitalized for flu were far more likely to seek medical care for certain conditions than those who’d had hospital treatment for a Covid-19 infection. 

They also found those who were hospitalized for flu were nearly twice as likely to receive treatment for a neurological disorder in the following year, compared to their Covid patient counterparts. 

An Australian physician previously told DailyMail.com that the designation ‘long Covid’ can cause unnecessary fear, ‘and in some cases, hypervigilance to longer symptoms that can impede recovery.’

Last year, scientists from the UK, US and Denmark looked at the definition of long Covid by a number of global health organizations, including the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

They found any new symptoms occurring after a confirmed or suspected Covid infection could be considered consistent with long Covid, resulting in more than 200 symptoms associated with it.

Many doctors are unconvinced that long Covid as a condition in and of itself exists, instead believing that different symptoms could signify a number of other diagnoses, such as hypertension, diabetes, lupus, and even cancer.

But with millions of Americans reporting similar symptoms for weeks to months after recovering from Covid, and a cost of about $11,000 per person in the form of lost earnings and medical spending, the federal government has deemed long Covid a ‘crisis.’

Senator Sanders, who released a draft of his proposal this week, said: ‘In my view, the time is long overdue for Congress to treat Long COVID as the public health emergency that it is.

‘Congress must act now to ensure a treatment is found for this terrible disease that affects millions of Americans and their families.’

The proposal aims to expedite the research and treatment development process by speeding up the amount of time it takes to review, approve, and distribute grant money to scientists.

In addition to including a major boost in funding for long covid research over 10 years, the moonshot would give doctors better tools to diagnose patients by establishing a database of patient symptoms, which aims to improve diagnostics.

Limited evidence about long Covid’s prevalence, how it affects different organ systems, what exactly causes it, and to what extent certain patients’ symptoms could be chalked up to fear and anxiety about it have made doctors hesitant to use the term.

Patients have claimed they often have had to convince doctors their symptoms were real, describing feelings of being ‘gaslit’ by doctors who don’t believe them.

Sen Sanders said: ‘Far too many patients with Long COVID have struggled to get their symptoms taken seriously. Far too many medical professionals have either dismissed or misdiagnosed their health problems. That has got to change.

‘We cannot turn our backs on the millions of Americans who continue to suffer from Long COVID. I look forward to hearing from patients, experts, and researchers about what we must do to address this crisis.’

There are no specific treatments yet for long Covid, something Sen Sanders hopes his moonshot initiative could change within a year or so of being implemented.

The proposal is still in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which Sen Sanders Chairs, and will need to pass out of that committee before it can get a vote on the floor of the Senate, where Democrats hold a razor thin majority.

Bernie Sanders

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