By Marija Djekic-Ivankovic
According to a recent New England Journal of Medicine article, more than 15 million cases of long COVID are expected in the United States alone. That said, no clear definition for this currently exists – including no accepted diagnostic tests or biomarkers. Long COVID is described as a chronic disease syndrome resulting from a SARS-CoV-2 infection, with a range of symptoms that can last weeks or months with unknown pathophysiology, time course, therapy, or recovery rate. Anyone who has been infected seems to be at risk of long COVID, though women and patients in their 40s seem to be predominantly affected.
Addressing long COVID effectively is likely to be an extended and complex endeavour for the health care system, society and patients. The authors suggest a strategy for coordinated national public health policy and response, which should be built on five essential pillars:
- Primary prevention with vaccine education campaigns;
- Continuation of long COVID research to identify pathophysiology and to develop standard terminology;
- Application of best practices and valuable lessons from other post-infection syndromes;
- A holistic response to the complex clinical needs of long COVID patients, with multispecialty clinics;
- Successful supportive care to long COVID patients by healthcare providers
The authors believe that together, these five unified efforts may go a long way toward mitigating the rising toll of long COVID.
Phillips, S. and M.A. Williams, Confronting Our Next National Health Disaster — Long-Haul Covid. New England Journal of Medicine, 2021. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp2109285