Minister knows nothing when it comes to Long Covid

In Blog, Health by Denis Naughten

The Minister for Health has confirmed in a Dáil reply to me this evening that he has no idea how many people have Long-Covid symptoms or the incidence rate of Long-Covid in the population.

In fact the Department does not even have an agreed definition of what Long-Covid is, yet it is clear that there are many people across the country suffering prolonged ill health as a result of a Covid 19 infection.

How can we support & treat patients or manage the long term impact of this infection if we are not measuring these long term Covid cases?

see the reply below from the Minister

For Written Answer on : 09/09/2021
Question Number(s): 1255,1038,1347,1516 Question Reference(s): 42233/21, 41633/21, 42487/21, 43158/21
Department: Health
Asked by: David Cullinane T.D., Richard O’Donoghue T.D., Denis Naughten T.D., Sean Sherlock T.D.
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QUESTION

* To ask the Minister for Health the status of the development of specific guidance on the treatment of long-Covid; the criteria and strategies for the ongoing evaluation of patients; if research reports and data are or will be made publicly available; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– David Cullinane T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 9 September, 2021.

* To ask the Minister for Health the position regarding support for persons suffering the effects of long Covid and who are unable to return to work; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Richard O’Donoghue T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 9 September, 2021.

* To ask the Minister for Health the incidence of long-Covid in each age cohort; the number of persons in each age cohort with long-Covid after 3,6,9 and 12 months; his plans to ensure that an effective care pathway is put in place for such patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Denis Naughten T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 9 September, 2021.

* To ask the Minister for Health his plans to deploy resources to research the myriad adverse health effects of what is known as long Covid; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Sean Sherlock T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 9 September, 2021.

REPLY

COVID-19 is a new disease so information on it, its features, incidence and its course are still emerging. Scientific and clinical evidence is evolving on the long-term effects of COVID-19. An increasing number of reports and studies are now being published on the topic, however, at present there is no agreement on the definition or the terminology.

It is recognised that persistent and prolonged symptoms can occur after acute COVID-19 infection in a proportion of patients, including in some patients who did not develop symptoms severe enough to require hospitalisation. My Department, through the Health Research Board, continues to fund research into the clinical impacts of COVID-19.

Patients with persistent symptoms following COVID-19 infection may be followed up by their GP or in hospital settings as clinically appropriate. People in the community who are concerned about persistent symptoms following Covid-19 should contact their GP in the first instance. Treatment is currently focused on management of specific symptoms.

Specific guidance on the treatment of ‘Long COVID’ is presently under development both here and internationally.

The HSE is currently assessing need and the best way to care for those impacted by Long COVID to ensure the appropriate supports are in place. As part of this work on post-COVID care, the HSE is examining how it can model the possible numbers that will be affected, noting that this will take time as more evidence emerges. I understand that the HSE has also been in touch with a group of people who are suffering post-COVID symptoms to inform understanding.

The Department of Health will continue to develop an understanding of the implications of Long COVID to inform policy as appropriate.