WHO chief urges action on long covid

WHO chief urges immediate action to tackle ‘devastating’ long Covid

The Guardian reports on the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) urging countries to take more action in dealing with Long Covid.


“While the pandemic has changed dramatically due to the introduction of many lifesaving tools, and there is light at the end of the tunnel, the impact of long Covid for all countries is very serious and needs immediate and sustained action equivalent to its scale,” Tedros said, writing for the Guardian.

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

However, there is mounting evidence that long Covid is preventing huge numbers of people from “living their fullest lives”, Tedros said. And that in turn is posing a fresh problem for countries still recovering from the pandemic, and in some cases, still having to cope with high levels of infections.

Stark research published this month suggests that as many as 17 million people in Europe alone may have experienced long Covid symptoms during the first two years of the pandemic.

The modeling also suggests that women are twice as likely as men to experience long Covid, and the risk increases dramatically among severe infections needing hospitalisation, the report said. One in three women and one in five men are likely to develop long Covid, according to the report.

Dr Charles Shepherd comments

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), is quite right to acknowledge the devastating effects of Long Covid and to call for understanding of the suffering that people are experiencing and the urgent need for more research.

However, he should also be acknowledging the complete failure of the World Health Organisation to recognise that millions of people with ME/CFS have had to experience the same or even a greater degree of suffering over many years and the failure of the WHO to advocate for recognition and research into ME/CFS 

The ME Association has been providing information and support to people with Long Covid dating back to May 2020 – when it became apparent that significant numbers were not recovering from COVID-19 and developing a post-covid syndrome that included symptoms that are the same as ME/CFS.  And in some cases people with Long Covid were meeting diagnostic criteria for ME/CFS.
Since then we have continued to cover all aspects of Long Covid on our social media where we regularly report on research and treatment developments.

We are very happy for people with Long Covid to join the ME patient community and take part in our discussions here on MEA Facebook.

We are, however, still very critical of the way in which huge amounts of money and research capacity has been directed at the cause and treatment of Long Covid when people with ME/CFS have faced a serious lack of government funded biomedical research into the cause and treatment of ME/CFS for many years.
We have also been critical of the way in which many clinicians and researchers have failed to acknowledge the important clinical and causative overlaps between Long Covid and ME/CFS and the failure to realise that what we know about the cause and management of of ME/CFS – especially activity and energy management –  could help people with Long Covid.

Dr Charles Shepherd,
Trustee and
Hon. Medical Adviser
to the ME Association.

Dr Charles Shepherd

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