Since August 2020, David Putrino, director of rehabilitation innovation at New York’s Mount Sinai Health System, has helped treat more than 3,000 people with Long COVID. In his experience, these patients fit into three categories.
A small number, no more than 10%, have stubborn symptoms that don’t get better, no matter what Putrino and his team try. Many people see improvement but still remain sick. And about 15% to 20% report full recovery—an elusive benchmark that Putrino greets with cautious optimism.
“I call it ‘fully recovered for now,’” Putrino says, since lots of people’s symptoms eventually come back, sometimes if they catch COVID-19 again, which can land them back at square one.
Putrino’s outlook isn’t purposely gloomy; it’s one informed by the difficult realities of treating Long COVID, a condition with no known cure and is defined by long-lasting symptoms following a case of COVID-19. Long COVID is associated with more than 200 symptoms, including fatigue, cognitive impairment, intolerance of exercise, chronic pain and others. Long COVID affects millions of people worldwide.