The head of emergencies at the World Health Organization stated on October 5, 2020 that the agency’s ‘best estimates’ indicate that roughly 1 in 10 people worldwide may have been infected by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 – more than 20 times the number of confirmed cases at that point.1
It is estimated that up to 25% of people in the United Kingdom, for example, may have already been infected with SARS-CoV-2, and it appears to be the general consensus that approximately 30% of COVID recovery patients could end up suffering from long-hauler syndrome. With infection rates growing, Jaguar believes it is possible that 10% to 30% of the European and possibly the global population is at risk of developing long-hauler syndrome after contracting COVID-19.
With the appearance of more transmissible, mutated strains of SARS-CoV-2, the potential population of post-COVID recovery patients suffering from gastrointestinal distress associated with long-hauler syndrome may increase significantly.
Vaccine skepticism in Europe may also play a role in driving infections. For example, despite 70,000 COVID deaths in France, nearly half the country’s population says it doesn’t want the vaccine, according to a January 14, 2021 episode of Morning Edition on NPR.2
It is estimated that as many as one-third of COVID patients develop chronic or chronic episodic long-hauler syndrome.3 According to a November 1, 2020 Wall Street Journal article, the majority of the more than 300 “long-COVID” patients seen at New York City’s Mount Sinai Health System Center for post-COVID care appeared to have developed a dysautonomia-like condition, and about 40% to 50% of these patients also reported symptoms such as gastrointestinal issues, headaches and shortness of breath.4 Based on these figures, the long-hauler population experiencing gastrointestinal distress could potentially range between 20 to 70 million people in Europe alone.
The preprint of a recent third-party, web-based international survey in long-hauler COVID patients that evaluated findings from over 3,700 respondents in 56 countries was posted on December 27, 2020 to medRxiv. The surveyed patients had either suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases with illness lasting over 28 days and had symptom onset for more than six months prior to the survey. The survey demonstrated expansive and debilitating multiple organ system symptoms for prolonged periods after acute COVID-19 infection. The survey was conducted for up to 7 months after acute infection and found that many of the patients continue to have significant disability and have not been able to conduct their activities of daily living (ADL).5
The survey showed that 65% of respondents reported experiencing COVID symptoms for
at least 180 days. Gastrointestinal symptoms were reported in about 85% of respondents, with diarrhea being reported in nearly 60% of respondents. Diarrhea was the most commonly reported GI symptom in the long-hauler COVID patients that participated in the survey. Furthermore, of respondents who experienced long-hauler symptoms for more than 6 months after being infected with COVID, approximately 20% reported experiencing diarrhea.5