Medical equipment is still strewn around the house of Rick Lucas, 62, nearly two years after he came home from the hospital. He picks up a spirometer, a device that measures lung capacity, and takes a deep breath — though not as deep as he’d like.
Still, Lucas has come a long way for someone who spent more than three months on a ventilator because of covid-19.
“I’m almost normal now,” he said. “I was thrilled when I could walk to the mailbox. Now we’re walking all over town.”
Dozens of major medical centers have established specialized covid clinics around the country. A crowdsourced project counted more than 400. But there’s no standard protocol for treating long covid. And experts are casting a wide net for treatments, with few ready for formal clinical trials.
It’s not clear just how many people have suffered from symptoms of long covid. Estimates vary widely from study to study — often because the definition of long covid itself varies. But the more conservative estimates still count millions of people with this condition. For some, the lingering symptoms are worse than the initial bout of covid. Others, like Lucas, were on death’s door and experienced a roller-coaster recovery, much worse than expected, even after a long hospitalization.
Symptoms vary widely. Lucas had brain fog, fatigue, and depression. He’d start getting his ener …