Some 'recovered' COVID-19 patients still have lingering symptoms nearly a year later; doctors push vaccine

Now a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, some of Houston’s first Coronavirus patients still have side effects.

"I feel extremely lucky to be here a year later," said Kate Miller.

Miller tested positive for COVID-19 in March of 2020.

"I’m coming up on a year of my diagnosis in a week," said Miller.  "The recovery doesn’t feel like a recovery all of the time."

RELATED: Thursday marks one year of COVID-19 in Texas

On Thursday, we held a round-table discussion with Miller, Yamilsa Herrera, and Dr. Joseph Varon from United Memorial Medical Center. While Miller had COVID-19 in 2020, Herrera tested positive for COVID-19 roughly two months ago.

"[I] still lose my breath," said Herrera. "[I] still feel tired. Like, right now I’m talking, and I have to breathe hard. That way, I can talk."

While both feel much better since originally testing positive, Miller and Herrera say they still have some concerns.

"It’s weird to say the word recovery," said Miller. "In some ways, I don’t feel recovered. The issues with smell have been hard. It’s very scary to feel like I have permanent reduced function of my lungs."

TIMELINE: How the Coronavirus COVID-19 unfolded in the greater Houston area

"It’s not a recovery," said Herrera. "You’re still dealing with your lungs. You get tired."

According to Dr. Varon, many recovered COVID-19 patients experience some lasting effects.

"Some people recovered within two days," said Dr. Varon. "[However], I’ve seen some people that a year later, their smell isn’t coming back. "50% of people that had COVID may have those lasting symptoms."

In Harris County, roughly 350,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last year. Of those, about 332,000 have recovered, while roughly 5,200 died.


"I feel like I haven’t gotten better," said Herrera. "Every day is the same to me."

"Things are going to get better," said Dr. Varon. "You really went through the worst of it. Just don’t ask me how soon, because I cannot answer that."

Dr. Varon believes most recovered COVID-19 patients should eventually feel 100%. However, he isn’t sure how long the lingering symptoms will last. In addition, Dr. Varon says recovered COVID-19 patients can get Coronavirus again.

"I’m nervous to go through it again," said Miller. "I don’t think I’d be as fortunate as I am now."

"The one recommendation I have is to get vaccinated," said Dr. Varon. "Yes, you can get it again. There’s no question about it. I’m recommending that people wait two to three months to get the vaccine after they have COVID."