The acute effects of various respiratory viral infections have been well studied, with extensive characterization of the clinical presentation as well as viral pathogenesis and host responses. However, over the course of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the incidence and prevalence of chronic sequelae after acute viral infections have become increasingly appreciated as a serious health concern.
Post-acute sequelae of COVID-19, alternatively described as “long COVID-19,” are characterized by symptoms that persist for longer than 28 days after recovery from acute illness. Although there exists substantial heterogeneity in the nature of the observed sequelae, this phenomenon has also been observed in the context of other respiratory viral infections including influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, rhinovirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus.
In this Review, the authors discuss the various sequelae observed following important human respiratory viral pathogens and our current understanding of the immunological mechanisms underlying the failure of restoration of homeostasis in the lung.