Doctors from University of Utah Health recently gave an update on the so-called “long-haul” effects of COVID-19.

In a virtual news conference, Dr. Jeanette Brown, assistant professor of medicine and medical director of the UofU long-hauler clinic, said that, even among COVID-19 patients that have relatively mild symptoms, about 30 percent will still suffer long-term effects, including fatigue, heart conditions and an abnormal sense of taste and smell. Some of the symptoms may linger for life, Brown said.

University of Utah Health opened its long-hauler COVID-19 clinic in mid-July. Doctors there have seen about 100 patients so far, with another 300 scheduled. They receive around 10 referrals a day, both within the state and in neighboring states, said Brown.

Brown cited a recent study that shows promising data that vaccination can potentially reduce the risk of getting “long COVID,” though Brown said that the app used to collect that data is cumbersome, so conclusions might not be completely inclusive. However, she said “protection from severe disease and becoming long-haulers is an important reason to get vaccinated.”

Dr. Richard Orlandi, a professor of otolaryngology at University of Utah Health, addressed the loss of smell and taste. He said that while the majority of people recover their sense of smell within six months, around 5 percent to 10 percent of patients seem to have a permanent loss of their sense of smell, which impacts taste.

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