Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to questions

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Have questions about the RECOVER Initiative?

FAQs share important information about the RECOVER Initiative and can help you understand what we currently know about the long-term effects of COVID.

As RECOVER learns more about Long COVID, we'll update these FAQs and add new ones. Please check this FAQs page regularly for the latest information.

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The study plan

Scientists and study participants are working together to learn more from research on PASC, including Long COVID. The RECOVER Initiative seeks to quickly improve our understanding of recovery after SARS-CoV-2 infection and to prevent and treat long-term health effects. When research findings are available, that information will be shared on this website and other NIH channels. Be sure to sign up to get updates by email using this link.

We're also working with providers, patients, caregivers, researchers, other federal agencies, and organizations to:

  • connect survivors of PASC and Long COVID with research sites where they can join a study;
  • connect people who have PASC and/or Long COVID with experts to share their experiences in the search for answers about these conditions; and
  • share what we're learning and help create connections between researchers, participants, and studies to quickly understand, prevent, and treat PASC, including Long COVID.

People leading RECOVER studies are experts in many areas of clinical care, research, and science. They are working together with participants to gather information about the ongoing health effects people are experiencing.

This information will come from clinical exams, health records, medical reports, records on the cause of death, and samples from human body tissue. The information will be collected and stored securely in a set of data storage systems in a way that protects privacy and patient information.

The information will be analyzed by researchers and scientists across the country so that we can quickly learn what is needed to prevent and treat PASC.

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About the science

Currently, many words are being used to describe what can happen to people's health after they have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It can be confusing when more than one word is used to mean the same thing, so we want to make it clear what these words mean.

What We Know: PASC, or post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2, refers to the effects that the virus causing COVID can have on the body after the initial part of the illness.

The term "post-acute" means that the symptoms happen after the initial part of the illness. The word "sequelae" means "consequence."

PASC is a term that scientists are using to mean the possible long-term consequences of an infection from the virus that causes COVID after the initial part of the illness is over.

For some people, symptoms last weeks or months after the early infection is over. You may hear this condition referred to as Long COVID. Other people can get new symptoms later, even if they didn't have symptoms at the beginning of the disease.

We are also learning about symptoms from people living with Long COVID and those who call themselves "long haulers," along with other terms that have come up.

Scientists are working hard to find out what symptoms can occur with Long COVID and why symptoms occur. Some people continue to have the symptoms they had when they were sick with COVID for weeks or months after they were first sick. Other people develop new symptoms later, even after they felt like they were no longer sick. Other people do not feel sick at all in the beginning, but show new symptoms weeks and months later.

Long COVID symptoms may happen in different parts of the body, like the lungs, heart, or brain. Many people have reported different types of symptoms like:

  • problems breathing,
  • a hard time concentrating or a feeling of "brain fog,"
  • problems remembering things,
  • feeling anxious,
  • having a racing heart, and
  • tiredness or weak muscles.

Others have reported headaches, loss of smell and taste, cough, and fevers that come and go. Sometimes symptoms seem to go away for a while, but then they come back.

Doctors and scientists are working to figure out why these symptoms occur and if they will go away on their own or need medical treatment, but we do not have answers yet.

There may be millions of people with long-term effects from infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. When it comes to Long COVID and more broadly, PASC (post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection), there are more questions than answers.

We are working with participants in RECOVER research studies to understand the symptoms that people with Long COVID have. We will share what we learn as soon as we can on the RECOVER website and through other channels. To stay up to date with research findings, sign up for email updates.

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How RECOVER is paid for

Congress gave $1.15 billion to NIH to study the long-term health effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection in late December, 2020. Although the primary funding source for RECOVER has changed to the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 (Sec. 2401), the $1.15 billion budget remains and NIH RECOVER research activities have neither stopped nor had any delays. The Department of Health and Human Services trusts the NIH to distribute the ARP funds for the Initiative.

Money provided by the government for research or programs can be called grants, contracts, or awards, including subawards. Early in 2021, awards were given to 30 groups. This includes researchers from hospitals, health centers, and other places. These groups came together to plan the RECOVER studies.

In early fall 2021, the NIH gave $470 million to the RECOVER Clinical Science Core (CSC) to begin to put together a network of sites across the country to study Long COVID. The CSC is led by New York University (NYU) Langone Health and includes more than 100 researchers from more than 25 places that have hundreds of research sites across the country doing studies.

The role of the CSC is to help plan, set up, and watch over the studies. The CSC will also make the materials needed to support the studies, such as information for research participants. They carefully think of ways for all types of people to join and take part in the studies.

To learn more on how RECOVER is paid for, see this NIH news article.

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The people in the studies

RECOVER studies are underway at places all across the country. RECOVER is working hard to include groups of people that reflect the nation's population.

Different studies are enrolling different groups. These groups will include adults, children and their caregivers, pregnant individuals, and newborn babies.

If you'd like to take part in a study, sign up here. We'll let you know when you can enroll.

Clinical trials will also begin in the future.

RECOVER studies are enrolling groups of people in sites across the country. Study information from all the sites will be shared with all RECOVER researchers to help answer key questions faster.

Soon you'll be able to see and choose study sites near you. When the studies begin enrolling, you can join a study.

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Getting feedback from patients and caregivers

One of the first steps taken was to create the main study plans for RECOVER. Close to 40 patients, caregivers, and representatives from Long COVID advocacy groups participated and gave important information about clinical outcomes and other data that are important to patients to be included in these plans.

The RECOVER Clinical Science Core (CSC) held a follow-up meeting with these patients to share updated protocols, receive more input, and get patients' thoughts on study recruitment materials. Getting feedback and advice from patients and caregivers is important to RECOVER. The CSC and others are putting in place ways to ensure their role in the study.

RECOVER has met and will continue meeting with many groups of patients and caregivers to learn about their experiences with COVID, to learn about their symptoms, and what might stop them from joining studies.

Patients and caregivers are already taking part in many groups within the RECOVER initiative. A group of patients and caregivers is also being formed within the RECOVER Initiative. This group will share their ideas and provide input on many issues, such as study plans and other key topics. Members of this group will be from different backgrounds and come from across the country.

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Study findings and reports

RECOVER research has not been published yet. Stay tuned to this website and sign up for email updates to be alerted when study findings are available.

If you want to see more research on COVID, you can visit the National Library of Medicine's LitCovid website. This is a listing of current scientific information about COVID. Articles are updated daily and sorted by topic, including Long COVID. They are also organized by the place where the study was done.

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Future plans

Right now, there are more questions about PASC and Long COVID than answers. So the research is now focused on rapidly getting answers. Learning more about PASC allows research and study ideas to evolve.

NIH will ask researchers to share their study ideas and the most promising ideas will lead to specific types of studies, called clinical trials. Clinical trials will test ways (like medicines and other therapies) to treat or prevent the long-term health effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

An important part of the RECOVER Initiative is that researchers will keep in touch with patients over a long period of time. This way, they can keep learning from participants and change their study approach as they understand more.

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More resources

There are many different symptoms of Long COVID. You may need help from different types of doctors to treat your Long COVID symptoms and get the help you need. The types of doctors, or specialists, that can help might include cardiologists (heart doctors), pulmonologists (lung doctors), neurologists (brain and nervous system doctors), physical therapists, occupational therapists, or speech and language specialists. Some clinics now have many different specialists to treat patients with Long COVID.

Survivor Corps is a grassroots organization that keeps track of care centers that focus on taking care of people after they have COVID. You can find information about the care centers on their website (Post-COVID Care Centers — Survivor Corps). More clinics are joining this group every day. Your own doctor also may be able to help you find the right care for your needs.

Long COVID is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if it significantly limits one or more major "life activities" or "bodily functions." Some examples of life activities include caring for oneself, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, speaking, breathing, thinking, and working. Some examples of bodily functions include the immune system, which fights infections; the heart and blood vessels; and the nervous system.

A health care provider will need to decide if a person's Long COVID condition or symptoms mean they have a disability.

You can learn more about disability coverage for Long COVID at this link from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As the RECOVER Initiative changes, we will bring together and share the stories and experiences of people affected by PASC, including Long COVID. Stay informed about these events and the latest research findings by signing up for emails from NIH RECOVER.

The best way to protect yourself against long-term effects is to get vaccinated. Also, encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to get the vaccine. Here are ways you can find a COVID-19 vaccination site near you:

  • Visit and search the website
  • Text your zip code to 438829
  • Call 1-800-232-0233