What the 1918 Flu Pandemic Could Foreshadow for COVID-19 Survivors?

A lot is still unknown about the coronavirus pandemic.

To try and better understand COVID-19, researchers reviewed data from survivors of the highly contagious 1918 flu pandemic and their findings could offer an unsettling warning for those stricken with the novel virus, reported Market Watch.

In a new paper published in the National Bureau of Economic Research, economists at Vanderbilt University, Oberlin College and Carnegie Mellon University found that survivors of the 1918 pandemic didn’t always completely heal.

“While 1918 was deadly, most that contracted the virus survived. But survival does not mean that individuals fully recovered,” the researchers wrote.

“The evidence suggests that, in 1918, those that survived the initial infection faced an elevated mortality risk and some physiological conditions never fully healed.”

Although the 1918 flu and COVID are not the same pandemic, they are both highly contagious respiratory diseases that spread around the world.

“The first lesson from 1918 is that the health effects were large and diffuse. We may never know the true mortality consequences of 1918 because of incomplete or inaccurate record keeping, issues that also undermine our ability to quantify the impact of COVID-19,” they wrote. “The range of lingering health effects for those that contract COVID-19 and survive remains to be seen.”

Some COVID-19 patients have reported having symptoms for months after contracting the virus. These so-called “long-haulers” have described experiencing neurological problems, headaches, fatigue, mood changes and loss of taste and smell, the outlet noted.

More research still needs to be done on COVID survivors in order to have a better understanding of any possible long term effects of the virus.

The 1918 influenza pandemic infected an estimated 500,000 million people worldwide, with an estimated 50 million deaths, according to the CDC. An estimated 675,000 people in the U.S. died due to the flu pandemic.

As of Wednesday, there have been over 22 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with at least 784,082 deaths, per Johns Hopkins University.

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