Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States government's top infectious disease expert, said lingering Covid-19 symptoms last much longer than those from other viral syndromes like influenza.
Between 25% and 35% of Covid-19 patients have lingering symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle aches, sleep disturbances and “brain fog.”
“We do know for absolutely certain that there is a post Covid-19 syndrome -- referred to sometimes as long Covid, chronic Covid, long haulers. It’s got different names," Fauci said on Saturday during an event with the American Medical Association.
It's unclear exactly how long symptoms can last, as the virus was discovered less than a year ago, but Fauci said symptoms have been observed for months after an initial infection.
"A proud moment for the medical profession:" Fauci also said medical professionals should be proud of the work they've done in the past several months, as they have been “really putting their lives and their safety at risk” by continually taking care of people who have a disease that is highly transmissible and has the potential to kill.
“We all should be very proud of is what our physician population at the local level is doing,” he said. “People in the towns, the counties, the cities who are in the hospitals, be they local hospitals or big city tertiary care centers.”
Why the death rate is going down: Fauci said the United States' Covid-19 death rate has been declining in recent months because due to three factors: “age, experience and better drugs.”
“We just get better at treating people. More experience. You (know) what works," Fauci said. "You know what doesn’t work, including just fundamental, non-pharmacological approaches.”
There are also now treatments that can help people, like dexamethasone and remdesivir, Fauci said.
The fact that younger people are now getting infected -- but not dying -- is also a factor bringing the death rate down, he said. However, Fauci noted that college kids are going back to school, getting infected and then "infecting people in the community"
"They’re the ones that are sort of driving the infection,” he said.