"Bell" WHO for long Covid: "We are facing a very serious crisis"

The head of the World Health Organization sounds the "alarm bell" for long Covid

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The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is sounding the "danger bell" for long Covid, speaking of a "very serious crisis".

The long Covid is "ruining" the lives of tens of millions of people, and wreaking havoc on health systems and economies, the head of the WHO says characteristically in his article in the Guardian.

The world has never been in a better position to end the pandemic Covid-19, but it is also "very clear" that many of those infected by the virus, which first appeared in China in late 2019, are still experiencing "prolonged suffering," the WHO director-general said.

Covid has killed nearly 6,5 million people, and infected more than 600 million. WHO estimates that 10% to 20% of survivors have medium- and long-term symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, and cognitive impairment. Women are more likely to suffer from the condition.

With the absence of evidence on how best to cope, prolonged Covid is upending people's lives and many face "often long" and "frustrating" waits for support or guidance, Ghebreyesus said. The large number of those hard hit by long Covid is also having a dangerous impact on health systems and economies still reeling from waves of infections.

"While the pandemic has changed dramatically due to the introduction of many rescue tools and there is light at the end of the tunnel, the impact of long-term Covid for all countries is very serious and needs immediate and sustained action equivalent to its scale" underlines in his article the head of the WHO.

Countries must now "seriously step up" both research into the condition and access to care for those affected if they are to "minimize the suffering" of their populations and protect their health systems and workforces.

Research published this month suggests that up to 17 million people, in Europe alone, may have experienced prolonged Covid symptoms during the first two years of the pandemic.

Writing for the Guardian, the WHO official said there are "five key elements" that are necessary to advance efforts to tackle long-term Covid. Countries need to listen to patients, use their “first-hand knowledge” to shape long-term Covid policies and collect better data to better understand the situation. Information sharing between countries needs to be improved to rapidly "close knowledge gaps" worldwide. He also called for "equal access" to tests, treatments and vaccines to prevent infections in the first place and thereby reduce the risk of long-term Covid, "sustained investment" in long-term scientific research into Covid and immediate "multidisciplinary care" for long-term Covid patients.

"Delayed clinical care for patients with long-term Covid not only affects their quality of life but also the length of time they have symptoms," said Tedros Ghebreyesus.
Source: Skai