Millions of people worldwide battling long COVID –WHO experts


Oluwatobiloba Jaiyeola

World Health Organisation experts have alerted that millions of people worldwide have had and still have long COVID.

They noted that many people will continue to deal with the long-term effects of COVID-19 even after their recovery, stressing that clinicians and patients need to start paying better attention to Long COVID.

Long COVID is a term used to describe the effects of COVID-19 that continue for weeks or months beyond the initial illness.

According to the experts, the WHO is yet to have a great understanding of the post-COVID-19 condition also referred to as long COVID.

Speaking in a video posted on the official Twitter handle of the global health agency on Wednesday, an infectious disease epidemiologist of the WHO, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said the WHO will be working closely with experts to ascertain how long the condition will last and, the number of people dealing and suffering from it.

“We understand that long COVID affects many parts of the body. It affects the brain, it affects the heart, it affects the lungs, it affects the muscle systems and mental health issues and so it’s quite complex.

“So we are working with patient groups, we are working with clinicians, we are working with mental health specialists, we are working with brain health and cardiac, pulmonologists, and paediatricians as well because children can also suffer from the post-COVID condition,” Dr. Kerkhove said.

She stated further that many people are dealing with the reality of long COVID and should not be ignored, adding that they should be provided with adequate care.

Kerkhove said, “A lot of people that have long COVID have been denied, saying it is in your head, it is not real. Long COVID is real. Long COVID is affecting millions of people.

“There are some estimates that it’s anywhere from, one to three in every 10 infections and we have had billions of infections. And even a “mild case” of COVID-19 could lead to long COVID.

“So we are setting up studies in countries to be able to track individuals over time, to have the proper research done so that we can have, accordingly, the right types of rehab. So there is a lot that is out there,” she said.

Also speaking in the video, an infection prevention control specialist at the WHO, Dr. Abdi Mahamud said, “This issue of the post-COVID condition or long COVID will be major.”

He appealed to clinicians and sick people to find out the status of their infection just so they can receive ample support if needed.

Dr. Mahamud said, “I urge all the clinicians who may be watching this, all the people who are sick in care to know the status of your infection because this is not an upper respiratory tract infection that you deal with and you’ll be done.

“Even milder cases of COVID have led to prolonged post-COVID conditions. It’s not to scare anyone but just to let you know that knowledge is power and once your physician is differentiating it, he can help you and you can have all the rehabilitative and mental and all support you require as an individual, as a community, as a society.”

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