Washington, DC, June 23, 2022 (PAHO) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) supports member states in understanding more about the post-COVID-19 condition and ways to treat patients more effectively.
More than 90,000 cases of acute COVID-19, including post COVID-19 condition from countries in the Americas, are now listed in a Global Clinical Platform for COVID-19, which collects data and descriptions to support research and to share guidance on clinical services to patients.
While most people who develop COVID-19 recover completely, it is estimated that between 10% and 20% experience a variety of medium- and long-term effects such as fatigue, shortness of breath and cognitive problems such as confusion, forgetfulness or lack of mental focus. and clarity. These effects are collectively known as post COVID-19 mode or “long COVID.”
“It is difficult to predict how long the post-COVID-19 condition will last for a given patient,” said Dr. Sylvain Aldighieri, Incident Manager for COVID-19 at PAHO. “There is still much to learn about the condition, but current research shows that patients may experience persistent symptoms for weeks or months after COVID-19.” The exact number of people affected by post COVID-19 condition – defined as symptoms that persist for three months after infection, lasts at least two months and cannot be explained by alternative diagnoses – is unknown.
Although post COVID-19 condition is more common in patients who developed the severe form of the disease, there are reports of people who had moderate illness but experienced some side effects, mainly respiratory, neurological and psychological. Disability under COVID-19 may limit a person’s ability to perform daily activities, including work or household chores. It can also affect professional performance and hinder social interaction.
PAHO established a working group on post COVID-19 condition to create a better understanding of the conditions, develop patient care algorithms for health services and to promote patient management and rehabilitation guidelines.
PAHO also distributed a brochure on the condition to countries with tips to understand it, actions people can take, and advice on diagnosis, prevention and treatment. The guide suggests seeking immediate treatment if people experience sudden and severe shortness of breath, chest pain, suicidal thoughts, coughing up blood, severe headache, weakness in one side of the body and slurred speech. The brochure, which is also online at Condition according to COVID-19 – PAHO / WHO | Pan American Health Organizationprovides space for countries to insert their own hotlines or website links to offer people help.
“The best way to prevent the condition is to avoid getting COVID-19 by being fully vaccinated, wearing masks in confined spaces, avoiding crowds, keeping 1 meter distance from other people, washing hands frequently and keeping rooms well ventilated.” Aldighieri added.
Efforts are being made to increase knowledge and improve access to healthcare for the interdisciplinary management of people with post-COVID-19 condition. The organization has also developed training activities aimed at decision makers and healthcare professionals.
Aspects related to mental health and rehabilitation are also important in dealing with the condition, and PAHO advises countries on techniques to support recovery. These can include exercises to deal with shortness of breath, teaching about pacing to help deal with fatigue, and brain activities to help improve attention, memory, and thinking. PAHO updates its guidance on rehabilitation management, holds workshops and webinars on post COVID-19 condition and rehabilitation, and works with experts in countries to share information on clinical management strategies.
WHO / PAHO’s clinical platform continues to collect and analyze information related to COVID-19 infection to support research on the subject and has more than 600,000 cases of patients who have had the disease.