Sen. Tim Kaine Introduces Bill to Research Long COVID as He Reveals His Own Lingering Symptoms

“I tell people it feels like all my nerves have had like five cups of coffee,” Kaine said of his long COVID symptoms

Sen. Tim Kaine
Sen. Tim Kaine. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, like millions of other Americans, had COVID-19. And like a smaller, but still significant amount of people, he's still dealing with the virus' symptoms, a form of the illness now known as long COVID.

Years after contracting COVID-19 in spring 2020, Kaine says he still has a "24/7" tingling sensation that runs through his body.

"I tell people it feels like all my nerves have had like five cups of coffee," he told the Washington Post.

That's part of what motivated Kaine to introduce a bill that would fund research into long COVID and the lasting effects of the virus and create treatment resources for people suffering. The bill, which Kaine introduced on Wednesday with Sens. Edward J. Markey and Tammy Duckworth, is called the Comprehensive Access to Resources and Education (CARE) for Long COVID Act.

How and why some people develop long COVID while others do not, and how to treat it, is still largely unknown. An estimated one-third to half of COVID-19 patients will have long COVID, even if their initial cases were mild, as Kaine's was.

"That's going to put a burden on our health-care system," Kaine said, "and it's also going to require some research and some understanding, compassion, for people dealing with these symptoms — adjustments and accommodations in the workplace. There's going to be a lot of consequences of this."

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Kaine has gone to a neurologist and had an MRI to try and better understand why he still has nerve tingling, but his doctor said that the scans came back clear. That was both comforting and frustrating, Kaine said.

"I know how my body felt before I got COVID, I know how it felt when I got COVID, and it's not gone back to where it was before," he said. "That gives me an understanding for people who talk about these long COVID symptoms."

While Kaine's symptoms are manageable, he wants to help the people who are still dealing with symptoms like brain fog, heart problems, respiratory issues and the loss of smell and taste.

"I can do everything I could do before. I don't lose sleep over it. It's not painful, it's not debilitating. It's just weird," he said. "[But] for a lot of people it's more than weird. It's painful. It's debilitating. … A lot of people have these symptoms and they don't know if they'll ever go away."

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