CHICAGO, Ill.  (Ivanhoe Newswire) — The CDC is tracking a new line of the COVID-19 virus.  According to the lab, it has more than 30 mutations in total … which is much more than any other COVID variant circulating. This comes at a time when COVID hospitalizations are beginning to rise … up to more than six thousand a week. For one in every five people who get COVID, the symptoms persist for months—if not years. New research out of northwestern medicine finds that millions of people who tested negative for the virus may actually have long COVID.

We are learning more about long COVID — why it happens, who it targets and how to treat it.

Brain fog, memory problems, fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia, breathing problems, muscle aches, heart issues – the symptoms of long COVID can be life-changing.

Neurologist Igor Koralnik Is part of a team who studied more than 18 hundred long COVID patients.  

Doctor Koralnik says, “More than 90 percent of patients that we see in the clinic are people who have never been hospitalized with COVID-19 pneumonia.”

Their study found 83 percent of patients had abnormal CT chest scans, 51 percent – cognitive impairment, 45 percent – altered lung function and 12 percent had an elevated heart rate. Long COVID has become the third leading neurologic disorder in the US. Thirty million have been affected.

“Among previously hospitalized patients, the average age is 54. But among people who had never been hospitalized, with a mild case of COVID-19 initially, the average age is 44.”

And surprisingly … Long COVID hits women in their forties, who were never hospitalized earlier due to COVID.

“We think that long COVID is a new autoimmune disease which is caused by the virus.” Explains Doctor Koralnik.

Women are four times more likely than men to develop autoimmune diseases. Now Doctor Koralnik encourages patients to keep looking for a customized treatment that works for them.

Researchers at Northwestern are looking at biomarkers in the blood to see if they hold answers as to why one person’s symptoms linger on, while others recover quickly. Doctor Koralnik says that although the COVID-19 vaccine continues to save lives, they do not believe it has an impact on whether or not a person will get long COVID.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Kirk Manson, Videographer.