The World Health Organization’s European branch said on Thursday that patients experiencing post-Covid or long-term Covid symptoms must be listened to and that understanding the long-term consequences should be a priority for health authorities.
“Those who suffer from COVID conditions must be consulted if we are to understand the long-term consequences and recovery from COVID-19. This is a clear priority for WHO and of the utmost importance. It should be for every health authority” Hans Kluge, Regional Director for WHO Europe , told a press conference.
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While some studies are beginning to shed light on the disease, it is still unclear why some patients with Covid-19 continue to show symptoms for several months, including fatigue, brain fog, and cardiovascular and neurological disorders.
“The burden is real and it is significant. About one in ten Covid-19 sufferers remains ill after 12 weeks, and many for a much longer period of time,” says Kluge.
He noted that reports of long-term symptoms came shortly after the disease was first discovered, saying that some patients “were met with mistrust or lack of understanding.”
Kluge stressed that these patients “must be heard if we are to understand the long-term consequences and recovery from Covid-19.”
WHO Europe called on European countries and institutions to “come together as part of an integrated research agenda” and to harmonize data collection tools and study protocols.
The Regional Director also said that he would bring together the 53 member countries of the WHO European Region, including several countries in Central Asia, “to define a regional strategy.”
In early February, the WHO organized the first so-called “Long Covid” virtual seminar to properly define it, give it a formal name, and harmonize methods for studying it.