Long-COVID Symposium Explores What is Known – and Not Known – about Disease

‘Many trials underway to explore interventions’


Helen Chu Dr. Helen Chu: Clinicians 'have a lot to learn about this disease.'

Long-COVID affects about 55 million people worldwide, but researchers and clinicians “have a lot to learn about this disease,” BBI’s Dr. Helen Chu said February 1 in opening remarks at a symposium on the UW campus.

Chu was joined by six experts from the Washington State Department of Health, Swedish Health Services, Public Health - Seattle & King County, and the UW.

“It’s frustrating for all of us,” Chu said. “There is no way to diagnose it. There is no quick lab test, and no assay to show you have Long-COVID. There’s no way to know who’s going to get better, or who’s going to get worse.”

Symptoms, she said, include: brain fog, fatigue, and being tired after exercising, even for months after patients’ COVID infections have resolved.

“There are some hypotheses,” Chu said. “We believe there is a persistent infection. There also is an autoimmune element to Long-COVID, or potentially an inflammatory response. COVID vaccines reduce one’s risk by about 30 percent and there are many trials underway to explore interventions.”

The event included presentations by:

  • Eric Chow, MD, MS, MPH, FACP, FAAP - Chief of Communicable Disease Epidemiology and Immunization, Public Health - Seattle & King County
  • Janna Friedly, MD, MPH - Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation - University of Washington School of Medicine; Executive Director, UW Medicine Post-COVID Rehabilitation and Recovery Clinic
  • Nikki Gentile, MD, PhD - Primary Care Medical Doctor at UW Medicine Post-COVID Rehabilitation and Recovery Clinic; Assistant Professor in the University of Washington Departments of Family Medicine and Laboratory Medicine and Pathology
  • Jason Goldman, MD, MPH - Infectious Disease Physician, Swedish Health Services
  • Jim Heath, PhD - President and Professor at the Institute for Systems Biology
  • Tao Kwan-Gett, MD, MPH, Chief Science Officer, Washington State Department of Health

The Seattle Flu Alliance hosted the event. A video of the symposium is available here.