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NIHR review identifies long-term effects of COVID-19

A review from the National Institute for Health Research will analyse the evidence around ongoing COVID-19 symptoms, otherwise referred to as ‘Long Covid’.

The review, drawing on the lived experience of patients and expert consensus on COVID-19, is aiming to improve understanding of the ongoing impact of the disease.

An initial steering group concluded that the widespread perception of COVID-19 is missing the crucial understanding of a distinct pathway experienced by a set of patients – long-term and ongoing effects.

The group also found that there is a lack of consensus on the diagnostic criteria for ongoing COVID-19.

They identified the need for a working diagnosis that is recognised by healthcare services, employers and government agencies to provide a basis for planning appropriate services and allow patients to access support.

In addition, the group found that there are a range of symptoms associated with Long Covid which need to be acknowledged.

The review identified that a common theme to arise was that symptoms occur in one physiological system, such as the heart or lungs, and cease only for symptoms to arise in a different place.

This ‘multisystem’ aspect of COVID-19 needs to be considered both in service provision and in research, according to the NIHR.

The review also highlighted the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on certain parts of the population, including care home residents.

High mortality rates have also been observed in Black and Asian communities – the review added that each population needed to be included in research to better understand the particular effect COVID-19 has on them.