WHO Officially Defines Persistent Covid-19 As A Disease, “An Important Step Forward” For Those Affected

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published the first official clinical definition of the disease ‘post-COVID-19’, also called persistent COVID-19, agreed after a global consultation and which aims to facilitate the treatment of the sick .

This pathology usually appears “normally three months after the start of Covid-19”. “The symptoms last at least two months and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis,” explained Dr. Janet Díaz, head of clinical management at the WHO.

Most patients with Covid-19 make a full recovery , although some suffer “long-term effects on their bodies, the pulmonary, cardiovascular and nervous systems, as well as psychological effects.” These effects can occur regardless of the initial severity of the infection and are most common in women, middle-aged people, and those who initially showed more symptoms.

This is the full definition of persistent Covid-19, according to the WHO: “Post-Covid-19 condition occurs in individuals with a history of probable or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, usually three months after onset. of Covid-19 with symptoms that last at least two months and that cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis.

The most common symptoms are fatigue, shortness of breath and cognitive dysfunction, but there can also be other symptoms that usually affect the daily functioning of the patient. Symptoms can be new onset, after initial recovery from an acute episode of Covid-19, or they can persist from the onset of the disease. Symptoms can also fluctuate or there may be relapses over time. For children, another definition may apply. “

Until now, the lack of clarity among healthcare professionals about the disease has complicated efforts to advance research and treatment . For this reason, the United Nations international health body decided to seek a standardized clinical case definition worldwide.

In her speech at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Dr. Díaz explained that the symptoms include “fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive dysfunction, but also others that generally affect daily functioning.”

“The symptoms can be new onset, after the initial recovery from an acute episode; or, they can persist from the beginning of the disease. In addition, the symptoms can also fluctuate or there may be relapses over time,” he added.

Dr. Díaz has described the new definition as “an important step forward” to standardize the recognition of patients with this condition and has stated that the WHO hopes that it will “help medical and health personnel to recognize patients and begin treatment and appropriate interventions and to be clear about the paths to take “. “We hope that policy makers and health systems establish and apply integrated health models to care for these patients,” he added.

Although there are several tests to detect the initial Covid-19 infection, there are none to detect this later condition , and it is not yet clear what triggers it in patients.

“Is it the viral persistence, or is there microthrombosis or a problem with the vascular system?” Dr. Díaz asked herself, outlining some of the ideas that scientists who carry out research in this field are considering. “Or, are there autoimmunity problems? Or is it the immune system that is malfunctioning and is causing some of the symptoms?”