The number of infections and deaths have been the main focus of health authorities during the Covid-19 pandemic. Those suffering from Long Covid have often been overlooked in the rush to save lives.
How many people suffer from Long Covid and for how long is something patients, researchers and medical professionals are still discovering. It is thought that Long Covid might affect hundreds of thousands of people in Switzerland.
Last week, a parliamentary health commission in Switzerland, voted 16 against 5 to put together a motion to the Federal Council seeking funding for research into Long Covid, according to blue News. In addition, 17 against 4 voted in favour of looking into the financial consequences and welfare support for those affected. The Council of States has already asked the Federal Council to present a report on financial support for Long Covid patients.
There appear to be different kinds of Long Covid with different symptoms. Some, after suffering severe initial symptoms requiring hospitalisation, need rehabilitation to recover from more obvious physical damage such as lung scarring. These patients often had underlying health conditions before being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and had symptoms associated with known medical history.
Other Long Covid sufferers, often with no underlying health conditions and mild initial Covid-19 symptoms, have persistent symptoms that are harder to diagnose but in some cases leave them debilitated to a degree that prevents them from working. The symptoms experienced by some of these patients resemble those associated with ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome), illnesses that are known to sometime be triggered by viral infections. Women are more likely than men to suffer from these conditions and younger people are typically at greater risk than the elderly.
A 29-year old patient interviewed by the BBC one year after being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus says he is unable to walk for more than 10 minutes and cannot spend more than 2 hours and 45 minutes a day on activities requiring cognitive effort. He was initially misdiagnosed with anxiety, then ME/CFS before receiving a diagnosis of Long Covid.
Understanding of these conditions continues to progress. However, some medical professionals, that might not have kept up with research, sometimes diagnose these conditions as psychological issues.
Some Long Covid sufferers, like CFS/ME patients before them, worry their plight will be ignored by the medical profession and the agencies that provide disability payments for those unable to work.