An NHS clinic dedicated to so-called ‘long Covid’ cases in five London boroughs has now treated 1,000 patients, it has been reported.
One of the first NHS clinics dedicated to the syndrome, the clinic at University College London Hospital was set up in May and serves part of north London.
‘Long Covid’ is not a clinically defined illness but has been described as a continuation of partial coronavirus symptoms for months after infection and has been reported in a concerning number of otherwise fit and healthy individuals.
The clinic’s doctors reckon fewer than five per cent of people who catch coronavirus will develop long Covid, but say measuring it is almost impossible, according to the Evening Standard.
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Dr Melissa Heightman, clinical lead for the service, told the newspaper: ‘The problem is that there is no case definition for it. It means we don’t have accurate data about how many people have it.
‘In terms of the symptoms these people describe, they’re different to what they had during their initial illness. Most people had a fever, cough, breathlessness, anosmia [loss of smell or taste]. Some of them didn’t have a severe version of Covid.
‘They have very different starting points but one thing they talk about is fatigue. They talk about a post-exercise malaise. If they do any activity they are shattered for days, sometimes a week.’
Clinics such as hers were struggling with a lack of specialised physiotherapists and occupational therapists who can help patients through rehab, she added, prompting colleagues to develop a self-help app.
The Your Covid Recovery website was said to have been visited by more than 100,000 people since it was launched in July.
A team of researchers and doctors at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) last week found the ‘long Covid’ phenomenon may actually be four different syndromes.
After reviewing current studies and interviewing patients, including those who were and weren’t hospitalised, they concluded that the illness did not seem to fit as a single issue.
They suggested that sufferers may have one of a selection of different syndromes such as post-intensive care syndrome, post-viral fatigue syndrome – two known syndromes – as well as a novel ‘long-term Covid syndrome’.
Lead author Elaine Maxwell said on Wednesday: ‘We are not saying that we have identified four definitive syndromes. We are raising this as a possibility and a possible explanation for why so many people feel they are not being believed or heard and are not getting access to supportive treatments.’
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