WHO Drops Long Covid Patients

What is the value of a confirmatory PCR test?  |  David Spiegelhalter and Anthony Masters

TThe WHO recently released its clinical case definition for what it has called the “post-Covid-19 state”. This definition is too little too late, its myopic scope does not recognize the extent of disabilities and illnesses caused by long Covid and its long term implications on quality of life and life expectancy. The millions of people around the world with long Covid deserve better.

It is not clear why the WHO definition snubs and does not embrace the term “long Covid”. The term was coined by patients who define themselves as long-haul. These patient-lawyer-researchers have galvanized attention around the existence of this disease and have long put the Covid in the spotlight. In just a few short months, they created a tremendous patient-led advocacy and research movement that changed the arc of medical history. They were the first to survey their limbs and catalog the wide range of clinical problems caused by Covid-19. Their contributions will go down in the annals of history as an important inflection point.

Arguably, without them, Covid would have long remained a peripheral disease ignored by governments, health systems and academic research as a marginal problem. They represent the 21st century version of the brave HIV-AIDS activists who changed the way governments and the public have dealt with HIV-AIDS. These are the Larry Kramers of the Covid-19. They deserve enormous respect and recognition, not only by including a few of them on the WHO panel, but also by acknowledging that without them none of us would be talking about long Covid. They should be celebrated and recognized as heroes. The term “long Covid” should be officially adopted by the WHO.

Beyond its lack of adherence to the name created by the patient, the WHO definition is based solely on symptomatology, ignoring many long-lasting clinical manifestations caused by Covid-19, including onset diabetes. recent, heart disease, kidney disease. These are chronic diseases that will leave scars in those affected throughout their lives. They not only affect the quality of life, but also the life expectancy. Considering the millions of people affected around the world, this will certainly lead to increased global and national burdens of these diseases, putting additional strain on already overburdened health systems. This deserves to be recognized now to ensure that our governments and our health systems are prepared to face the wave of patients with these chronic diseases.

Failure to recognize that the long-term ramifications of Covid-19 also include the development of new chronic metabolic and cardiovascular diseases will once again leave us ill-prepared to deal with the enormous after-effects of Covid-19 – a critical public health crisis that resonates for decades to come. The downstream consequences of a long Covid will not only shape health outcomes, but will also have broad economic, social, political and global security implications.

The WHO definition also conditions the diagnosis on the idea that the symptoms cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis, which makes Covid a diagnosis of exclusion for a long time – further marginalizing this disease. I fear this myopic definition of long Covid may be used by governments and health insurers to debase disease and deny insurance coverage. This may fuel gaslighters’ fire, providing them with a moral license to sow more skepticism about the existence of this disease and label its harmful effects the “invention” of militant patient groups.

WHO has provided a suboptimal response to Covid-19; they hesitated for weeks before declaring Covid-19 a public health emergency of international concern on January 31, 2020. Sadly, the WHO’s slow and calcifying response to long Covid is set to repeat the same mistakes. The millions of sick people around the world deserve better. WHO, national governments and health systems around the world need to do a better job preparing for a long Covid. Failure to recognize the scale of the problem and prepare for it now risks eroding much of the progress made in global health in recent decades.


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