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Long Covid-19 is not as infrequent as we think it is – expert – Manila Bulletin


Should we be concerned about long Covid-19? An expert said yes.

The Covid-19 pandemic has completely altered the world in the past two years. As we continue to battle against the emerging variants of the infectious disease, another threat appeared – the long Covid-19.

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Long Covid-19, also known as long-haul Covid-19, is a term used to describe persistent symptoms of the disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an individual who still has symptoms of the disease after three months of initial infection is already considered a “long-hauler.”

Among its common symptoms are fatigue, shortness of breath, and cognitive dysfunction.

However, Head of Hospital Infection Control Unit of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Dr. Regina Berba said that upon further assessment, experts have linked more symptoms to this chronic condition.

“Now that we have been reading more and more data about it, beyond the usual fatigue, shortness of breath, and brain fog there’s also chest pain, pounding of the heart, mood changes, fever, nausea, diarrhea, and hair loss,” said Berba in a webinar held by the University of the Philippines (UP) on Friday, Sept. 9.

Citing a foreign study by Jon Klein called “Distinguishing features of long Covid-19 identified through immune profiling,” Berba also explained that experts tried to identify why the condition occurs.

A part of the study showed that long Covid-19 is more frequent among older, female, and hospitalized patients. But this does not imply that it only occurs among these groups, clearing that everyone is still at risk.

“The GAVI [Vaccine Alliance] website tells us that there’s about anywhere from one percent to five percent cases of long Covid after acute Covid-19. Most of this could be linked to advance age, obesity, asthma, female sex, and prior physical and mental health,” said Berba.

How often does it happen?

Berba, in the same webinar, debunked the belief that long Covid-19 rarely happens.

“In India, it is very close to 100 percent. In the United States, very close to 75 percent. It is not as infrequent as we think it is. Many of the symptoms that we think are not related to Covid-19 may actually fall under long Covid,” she said.

“[It is not] minor. It is something serious enough for us to be aware of, recognize, and try to help our patients with,” Berba furthered.

The expert then urged her fellow healthcare workers to support long Covid-19 patients, highlighting the effects that this condition could bring into their lives.

“It is important for us to really support them and not make them feel [bad]. Let us try to address the stigma. These patients undergo a lot of problems so let us help them cope with that,” she reiterated.

The infectious disease expert likewise stressed that being vaccinated against the disease reduces the risk of acquiring long Covid-19.

 

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