Nearly 36 million people in Europe may have experienced long COVID, World Health Organization official says

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Nearly 36 million people in Europe may have had lasting health problems from coronavirus infections they contracted during the first three years of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Tuesday the regional director of the World Health Organization.

Dr Hans Kluge said ‘the long COVID’ remained ‘a complex condition (that) we still know very little about’ and ‘a glaring blind spot in our knowledge’.

“Unless we develop comprehensive diagnostics and treatments for the long COVID, we will never truly recover from the pandemic,” Kluge said, reiterating that the elderly, people with underlying medical conditions and d Others with weakened immune systems should continue to get vaccinated.

While most people recover from COVID-19 a few weeks after infection, some people have reported continued fatigue, shortness of breath, and brain fog.

The WHO European Region covers 53 countries, from Ireland to Uzbekistan, with a combined population of over 900 million. Statistics from researchers at the University of Washington indicate that about one in 30 residents of the region have experienced “long COVID”. over the past three years, Kluge said.

The origin of the virus that has triggered once unthinkable lockdowns, upended economies and killed millions around the world has not been identified.

Last month, the World Health Organization declared that COVID-19 was no longer considered a global emergency. The announcement came more than three years after the WHO declared the coronavirus an international crisis. The UN health agency said that did not mean the end of the pandemic, noting recent spikes in cases in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

In Europe, “COVID-19 has harnessed an epidemic of disease including cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic lung disease, which account for 75% of mortality,” Kluge said.

“Those with such underlying conditions were, and still are, significantly more vulnerable to severe forms of COVID-19,” he added.

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