• Friday, December 02, 2022

News

17 million people in Europe got long Covid in the first two years of the pandemic

Long Covid cases quadrupled in 2021 compared with 2020.

Representational image (iStock)

By: Pramod Thomas

At least 17 million people in Europe experienced long Covid in the pandemic’s first two years,according to WHO.

It added that many are still struggling with debilitating symptoms.

Women were twice as likely as men to experience lingering effects, according to new modeling conducted by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.

The data, compiled for the World Health Organization’s European region, shows one in three women who were hospitalized risk developing long Covid.

“While there is much we still need to learn about long Covid, especially how it presents in vaccinated versus unvaccinated populations and how it impacts re-infections, this data highlights the urgent need for more analysis, more investment, more support, and more solidarity with those who experience this condition,” said Dr Hans Henri P Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.

“Millions of people in our region, straddling Europe and Central Asia, are suffering debilitating symptoms many months after their initial Covid-19 infection. They cannot continue to suffer in silence. Governments and health partners must collaborate to find solutions based on research and evidence.”

Lingering symptoms — from chronic fatigue and “brain fog” to breathlessness — are estimated to afflict around 10 per cent to 20 per cent of Covid cases. So far, the condition and its causes have perplexed doctors, prompting calls for more research to find ways to treat and prevent it.

“Our research shows nearly 145 million people around the world in the first two years of the pandemic suffered from any of three symptom clusters of long Covid: fatigue with bodily pain and mood swings, cognitive problems, and shortness of breath. Fast forward and millions of people continue to suffer because of Covid’s lingering impact on their health and livelihoods,” said Dr Christopher Murray, Director of IHME.

“Knowing how many people are affected and for how long is important for health systems and government agencies to develop rehabilitative and support services. It’s also paramount for employers to understand so that special accommodations can be made to help those facing limitations.”

The WHO’s Europe region includes 53 countries — most of them in Europe but some in central Asia as well.

Long Covid cases quadrupled in 2021 compared with 2020, the study estimated, based on a definition of the ailment as cases with symptoms lasting at least three months.

Eastern Eye

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