Research into Long Covid, whereby people continue to suffer from symptoms long after a Covid-19 infection, is still ongoing.
So far, there are still no exact explanations regarding how and why Long Covid develops. However, Long Covid patients are being treated in the context of a pilot study in Luxembourg.
On Friday evening, our colleagues from RTL Télé talked to Dr Martine Goergen, the medical director of the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL), about the first phase of the project.
332 patients have participated in the project since summer 2021. It is "a disease after the disease", Dr Goergen explained. Long Covid mainly affects younger people, with the average age being 47. The youngest patient in the study is 17 and the oldest is 68.
According to Dr Goergen, the medical team also noticed that Long Covid seems to disproportionally affect women compared to men. This is in contrast to overall hospitalisations, which generally affect men more than women.
80% of current or former participants in the pilot project had a rather mild Covid-19 infection. Scientific studies are still ongoing, but certain characteristics can be discerned.
Dr Goergen explained that there is some evidence to suggest that the virus mainly attacks "small veins" as well as "the inner layers of blood vessels", which leads to embolisms.
People who are hospitalised often receive blood thinners and a cortisol treatment, which might reduce the chance of Long Covid developing. However, Dr Goergen stressed that this has not been clinically proven so far.
The therapy itself is often lengthy and mainly focuses on dealing with the symptoms, according to Dr Goergen.
This mainly involves "re-education, muscle development and breathing exercises".
Many people also have difficulty concentrating on activities. In that case, they are assigned a neuropsychologist who teaches them exercises that are meant to help them improve their focus.
In addition, the medical team has to treat new diseases that have developed following a Covid infection, such as diabetes.
Diseases that develop after a Covid-19 infection will stay with patients for the rest of their lives, Dr Goergen explained. As it is "not easy" being isolated during an infection only to realise that some symptoms are not going away, offering psychological support is "very important".
The pilot project is to be continued, which is why the team is currently working with the National Health Fund (CNS) to secure the necessary funding, Dr Goergen stated.