Study finds scope of long-term coronavirus may be exaggerated

“Science” editorial, September 25 (Efe). – A survey of the available scientific evidence and epidemiological studies of persistent COVID-19 has concluded that its scope may be excessive and that in many cases its symptoms may be related to other conditions that would not otherwise go unnoticed. treat.

The scientific review, conducted by researchers from Denmark, the United States and the United Kingdom and published in the journal BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine, concluded that a clearer definition of persistent coronavirus is needed and studies are needed over a longer period of time. A better case for in-scope control and monitoring design.

The researchers drew attention to the fact that there is no consensus among major international organizations in defining what persistent coronavirus is, arguing that the descriptions used are very general.

For example, the World Health Organization considers a person to have long-term COVID-19 if symptoms of the disease appear three months after infection and persist for more than two months; while the U.S. National Public Health Agency (CDC) refers to People who develop symptoms within four weeks of the initial infection.

In this study, the authors defined persistent COVID-19 as a syndrome or individual symptoms that can be considered as direct sequelae of the SARSCoV-2 virus and persist for at least 12 weeks.

The authors believe that another mistake when talking about persistent COVID-19 is to call it a chronic disease because “symptoms improve over time, although some symptoms take a while to go away.”

They also maintain that some of the conditions associated with ongoing COVID-19 infection, such as post-ICU syndrome (weakness and fatigue after receiving intensive care), are common in people with other respiratory viruses, such as severe pneumonia .

The researchers say there is a “striking” lack of control and follow-up of patients with persistent COVID-19 infection over time to better understand this pathology.

They cited a recent review of ongoing COVID-19 epidemiological studies, which showed that only 11% of surveys (22 of 194) had follow-up groups. Of those, 45% of those affected still had some symptoms four months after infection, but this review did not assess whether these symptoms were present in uninfected people.

During follow-up, they cautioned that the patients analyzed did not undergo diagnostic testing, regardless of whether they actually had SARS-CoV-2 or were not infected with SARS-CoV-2 when they were study subjects.

The authors believe that in addition to the above diagnoses, future studies of persistent COVID-19 should include appropriate comparisons of control groups; larger samples by age, gender, geographic location, or socioeconomic status; and information on underlying physical and mental health issues. data; longer follow-up after infection.

Only in this way, they conclude, can health investments be better directed and better treatments found, both for those with ongoing COVID-19 and for those with other illnesses underlying the symptoms. people.

In some of the responses to the study collected by science resource platform Science Media Center, several researchers agreed that there is an urgent need to better define the control and diagnosis of persistent COVID-19, but disagreed that cases in patients were overestimated. .

“This statement is inconsistent with neither the scientific evidence nor the experience of people who are persistently infected with the new coronavirus and the doctors who care for them. Not only through epidemiological studies, but also through the study of severe and long-lasting pathological changes after the new coronavirus, there are Overwhelming evidence shows that SARS-CoV-2 carries significant risks of long-term effects.” University of Otago Health, New Zealand.

His colleague at the university, biochemist Warren Tate, also disagrees with the idea of ​​diverting precious funds away from the ongoing coronavirus and instead diverting them to other needs: “People living with COVID-19 have Post-viral syndrome populations have historically been overlooked and have limited resources. “Increased attention to ongoing COVID-19 will bring benefits to people who have been living with debilitating conditions for years. “

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