What we do know is that there are many and that they are very, very bad.

Courtesy of Reuters

Scientists are only starting to grasp the vast array of health problems caused by the novel coronavirus, some of which may have lingering effects on patients and health systems for years to come, according to doctors and infectious disease experts.

Besides the respiratory issues that leave patients gasping for breath, the virus that causes COVID-19 attacks many organ systems, in some cases causing catastrophic damage.

“We thought this was only a respiratory virus. Turns out, it goes after the pancreas. It goes after the heart. It goes after the liver, the brain, the kidney and other organs. We didn’t appreciate that in the beginning,” said Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California.

In addition to respiratory distress, patients with COVID-19 can experience blood clotting disorders that can lead to strokes, and extreme inflammation that attacks multiple organ systems. The virus can also cause neurological complications that range from headache, dizziness and loss of taste or smell to seizures and confusion.

And recovery can be slow, incomplete and costly, with a huge impact on quality of life.

There is of course the longterm lung damage that we have talked about before and the cases of damage to the liver, heart, and kidneys in some patients, but now there is more data about what it can do to our brains:

Dr. Igor Koralnik, chief of neuro-infectious diseases at Northwestern Medicine, reviewed current scientific literature and found about half of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had neurological complications, such as dizziness, decreased alertness, difficulty concentrating, disorders of smell and taste, seizures, strokes, weakness and muscle pain.

Koralnik, whose findings were published in the Annals of Neurology, has started an outpatient clinic for COVID-19 patients to study whether these neurological problems are temporary or permanent.

Currently, we are still in the data-gathering stage, which pushes the idea of vaccines, medications, and long term treatments back further still.

If we had a scientifically focused administration in charge we would be moving forward significantly faster, but since the Trump Administration is more focused on convincing people that there is nothing to worry about instead of focusing on solutions, we may have to wait until the next administration is in place before any real progress is made.