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Covid long: Effects still poorly known – Health – Health

Fatigue is a common symptom for many people with long Covid. (Photo: AFP)

There are no reliable data on the frequency of suicides in patients with long Covid. But a causal link is not excluded, far from it. Following evidence of an increase in cases of depression and suicidal thoughts in people with Covid, as well as a growing number of cases of suicide, several researchers are beginning to investigate a potential link. ” I’m sure long covid is associated with suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, suicide plans and risk of death from suicide. We simply do not have epidemiological data said Leo Sher, a psychiatrist at Mount Sinai Health System in New York, which studies mood disorders and suicidal behavior.

Also, research from Britain and Spain found a six-fold increased risk of suicide in patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), another post-viral illness with similar symptoms. to those of the long Covid, compared to the general population.

Long Covid is a complex medical condition that can be difficult to diagnose, as it has a range of over 200 symptoms, some of which can resemble other illnesses: from exhaustion and cognitive impairment to pain, fever and heart palpitations, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). While many Covid patients recover over time, around 15% still have symptoms after 12 months, according to theInstitute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) from the University of Washington. Globally, it is estimated that nearly 150 million people developed long Covid in the first two years of the pandemic. Also according to IHME, the long Covid reduces overall health by 21% on average, as does total deafness or traumatic brain injury.

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Some experts expected Omicron to be less likely to cause long Covid, official UK data released this month revealed that 34% of the country’s 2 million long Covid patients developed their symptoms after an Omicron infection.

Time is a scarce commodity for a growing number of long-time Covid sufferers who say they lack hope and money, disease experts say. In many developing countries, the lack of long-term Covid surveillance makes the picture even murkier, said Murad Khan, professor of psychiatry at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan, who is part of an international group. of experts researching the risk of suicide linked to Covid-19. ” We have a huge problem, but we don’t know the extent of it “, he admits. To date, there is no approved treatment for long Covid whose debilitating symptoms of the disease can prevent sufferers from leading normal lives.

Among the key questions currently being examined by researchers: is the risk of suicide potentially increased in patients because the virus alters brain biology? Or does the loss of their ability to function as they once did push people to the brink, as can happen with other long-term health issues?

A study published last week in Lancet Psychiatry highlighted increased risks of certain brain disorders two years after infection with the coronavirus, shedding new light on the long-term neurological and psychiatric aspects of the virus.

On the trail of the virus

Asked if the virus changes the brain, Richard Gallagher, associate professor of child psychiatry at the NYU Langone Health, said there was evidence Covid could cause brain inflammation (which has been linked to suicide and depression) even in people who had had a relatively mild form of the disease. ” There may be direct toxic effects of the virus, and part of that will be inflammation “, did he declare.

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The Long Covid Research Initiative, which includes leading American academic centers, aims to answer a key question about the cause of long Covid, namely whether fragments of coronavirus persist in the tissues of certain individuals. ” The first thing you need to know in the case of long Covid is whether the patients still have the virus in them or not. said Dr. Amy Proal, an infection-associated chronic disease expert who will serve as the initiative’s scientific director. ” A growing body of evidence points to the presence of viruses in tissues that continue to elicit an immune system response “, she said.

If viral persistence is proven to cause long Covid, the research initiative aims to test antiviral treatments, as well as other types of drugs that modulate the immune system.

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