The Health Secretary’s Covid-19 Advisory Committee has made its first recommendations on long Covid, while admitting that there are more questions than answers about the condition.
In a memo to Secretary Joe Phaahla dated Am May 27, committee chairs Koleka Mlisana and Marian Jacobs said a study of adults hospitalized with Covid-19 found more than two-thirds reported incomplete recovery three months after their acute illness.
< p>Long-term Covid symptoms were also noted in up to a third of patients with mild infections.
“While most symptoms appear to subside over time, the natural history of the disease is not yet known,” they said.
< p>“The impact of a long Covid on the quality of life can be severe, with significant limitations on social and professional functioning. These have been found to have a significant negative impact on quality of life, ability to work and ability to carry out daily activities.
“On average, people with long-term COVID-19 function at 59% of their pre-Covid abilities , and more than 20% of people are unable to return to work. Poor quality of life is associated with prior ICU admission and fatigue.”
Risk factors forlong Covid include advancing age, female gender, pre-existing comorbidities (including obesity, hypertension, diabetes mellitus and asthma) and immunodeficiency (including HIV and cancer).
However, Mlisana and Jacobs said: “Currently there are no registered or evidence-based therapeutic interventions to treat it available from long Covid. There is no universally accepted definition of the condition in children.”
Given the lack of evidence-based clinical guidelines or treatments, the Advisory Committee recommended a set of tests that doctors can use long Covid too diagnose and said, “Treatment strategies should be guided by the individual clinical presentation and aim to alleviate symptoms until more targeted therapies are available.
< span> “Identifying and optimizing the management of existing comorbidities, new comorbidities and complications of acute Covid-19 are important goals in the management of patients with long-term Covid.”
The experts encouraged long-term patients Covid to get vaccinated and participate in clinical research programs “to allow local data generation and access to new therapies”.
< span >” Establishment of multidisciplinary specialist clinics (or clinics with potential for specialist list interdisciplinary collaboration/referral) are needed for the assessment and treatment of complex cases on a referral basis. Regional clinical experts should be designated to lead such efforts.”
The committee also proposed that long-Covid be recognized as a disease by the public health department, leading efforts to develop evidence-based clinical should guide guidelines for the disease.
“The National Institute for Communicable Diseases should be requested to set up a surveillance system to measure the incidence and prevalence of long-Covid,” it said.< /span>
The experts also said:
- the health department should prepare courses on long covid for doctors;
- The College of Medicine should be contacted to consider a Diploma in the Treatment of Covid and Long Covid; and
- the SA Medical Research Council should be asked to issue a call for proposals addressing the epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment of long covid.< /span>
Support independent journalism by subscribing to The Sunday Times. Only 20 R for the first month.