Since March 2020, about 4.4 million people in Texas have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and at least a third of these people have continued to suffer from health issues after their initial bout. Many are still finding it difficult to think or breathe, and their day-to-day lives have become a struggle.
This condition is known as long COVID, and there is currently no proven treatment for it, which means that it can impact how people work and spend time with their families. One common complaint is ongoing shortness of breath, which may be caused by scarring of the lungs after the virus has run its course. This can cause problems with even simple physical activities such as going up the stairs or keeping up with kids.
Underscoring how debilitating this condition can be, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service issued guidance on how people living with long COVID can be considered for disability protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
With the focus on vaccinations and potential treatments for the virus, the plight of people suffering after COVID-19 infection has taken a back seat. But in many cases, our neighbors, friends, parents and coworkers have had great difficulty getting back on track and have shown little or no signs of improving.
I am leading a study at UT Health San Antonio to determine if an investigational treatment can improve respiratory complications following COVID-19 infection. The treatment, LYT-100, is a form of pirfenidone, a drug that is already approved in the U.S. for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which is a condition characterized by the scarring of tissue in the lungs. Given that the presence of lung scarring is a hallmark of long Covid, LYT-100 is being studied to see if it can help.
During the study, which we’re calling the Reclaim study, doctors and nurses who are experienced in treating respiratory conditions will work to closely assess whether LYT-100 may help people who have had a severe COVID-19 infection. The Reclaim study is evaluating the potential of LYT-100 to help prevent lung scarring and address shortness of breath caused by long COVID.
I’m on a mission to educate Texans about the risks of long COVID because I have seen firsthand how destructive this diagnosis can be. The study I’m overseeing is open for enrollment to adults who have had a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 within the last three to four months and are still experiencing shortness of breath, among other criteria. Learn more about the Reclaim study and find out if you’re eligible for enrollment here. We have an opportunity to make sure those at highest risk of developing long COVID in your community get the attention and resources they need.