Dutch RIVM starts research into long-term Covid-19 effects

AMSTERDAM - Starting at the end of April, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) will study how the coronavirus impacts people in the long-run. The public health agency will follow one thousand Dutch people for one year to investigate how their health has changed after being infected with Covid-19.

Those with symptoms of the coronavirus disease months after their initial diagnosis are considered sufferers of “Long Covid”. It includes issues such as fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle pain, headache, prolonged loss of taste or smell and/or depression. It can also include frequent feelings of fogginess, or becoming easily overstimulated and overwhelmed.

“Some of these complaints persist for a long period, but their severity may decrease over time”, the RIVM writes. The majority of people effected are between the ages of 25 to 65.

In Great Britain, Long Covid has already been on scientists’ agenda for some time. Yesterday, British researchers under the commission of the Office for National Statistic released a report which concluded that 13.7 percent of infected Brits have symptoms for longer than three months. They estimated that 1.1 million British people feel the effects of the coronavirus four weeks experience symptoms for longer than four weeks. 70 thousand of them reportedly still supposedly did not reach full recovery one year later.

In the Netherlands, around 40 thousand currently suffer from long-term complaints due to the coronavirus, key figures in the health care estimate, according to the AD. They reported symptoms such as fatigue, concentration problems and shortness of breath. This makes taking part in daily activities feel like an insurmountable obstacle. “I’m just embarrassed of who I currently am. I’ve been at home for eleven months. It’s terrible not being able to be a normal father to my kids”, one person with Long Covid states.

Doctors warn that the long-term effects have been left out of the debate for too long. Long Covid, therefore, is not an official diagnosis and its cause is also not clear. The RIVM, therefore launched as investigation into the extent of the issue in the Netherlands. Participants include people who tested positive for the coronavirus and a control group who did not have Covid-19. Within the course of one year, the participants will continuously fill out questionnaires about their well-being.

There have been multiple calls from patients in the Netherlands to the government for more research on the topic. Recently, a petition was created that more centers should be created for the treatment of patients who experience long-term coronavirus effects.

The Ministry of Health launched the C-support program which is meant to inform, advise and support patients suffering with long-term symptoms after contracting the coronavirus. 

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