Athlete, 22, still has bad Covid symptoms 11 months after contracting the virus

A fit and healthy endurance athlete says she’s barely able to exercise at all due to coronavirus symptoms that have lingered for 11 months.

Harper Powell, 22, from Denver, Colorado, used to compete in national mountain bike races but after catching Covid in February, says she is unable to do any of that due to ‘extreme fatigue’.

She is one of around 10% of coronavirus patients who develop ‘long Covid’ – a condition characterized by symptoms of the virus that last for several months after a person clears the infection itself from their body.

Harper said she contracted Covid in February last year – right at the beginning of the pandemic – when she was studying abroad in France, reports Fox 31.

She said her symptoms weren’t that bad to begin with, but now, almost a year later, Harper has said riding her bike is nearly impossible due to Covid-fatigue.

Harper said: ‘It’s been scary at times and it’s been frustrating, kind of everything.

‘I didn’t have a super severe infection but it was unusual for me. It started off with a really tight chest. I felt like I couldn’t take a deep breath.

‘Then I started coughing and had some other symptoms over the next couple of weeks.

‘A lot of strange inflammatory symptoms here and there with the most consistent being headaches, fatigue, eczema and then the chest tightness has also stayed on.’

Harper added that her symptoms have prevented her from taking part in basic exercise.

Like other ‘long-haulers’ in Colorado, Harper has been receiving treatment at UCHealth’s Post-Covid clinic. 


Dr Sarah Jolley, director of the clinic, has said even experts are unsure why some people experience ‘long-Covid’.

She said symptoms typically range from exercise intolerance, fatigue, shortness of breath and persistent cough.

Dr Jolley said: ‘This is a real phenomenon but we’re still trying to understand exactly who it happens to and why it happens to particular patients.

‘I think that’s what’s so different about this syndrome is it seems not to affect just one organ system. It really seems to affect organs systems in different ways in different patients.

‘There are also ongoing studies looking at the immuno-response to understand if there’s differences in immunity that dictate these symptoms, but a lot of that is happening right now.’

Harper added that while she’s still suffering from fatigue, headaches and a shortness of breath, she is hopeful of returning to sport in the not-to-distant future.

She added: ‘I really think it’s a matter of time and just caring for my body and learning to be patient.’

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