Health Policy

Experts caution against using vaccine success to ease measures

By - Integrated Care Journal

Experts caution against using vaccine success to ease measures

Independent SAGE (Indie SAGE) have warned against using the success of the vaccination roll-out so far being used as a justification for easing measures designed to supress the virus.

Indie SAGE, a group of scientists that advise the Government and public on Covid-19 policy, claims that a policy of ‘going back to normal’ once vulnerable groups have been vaccinated risks putting the non-vaccinated population at risk of illness, including long Covid. It is estimated that between five and 10 per cent of people who get Covid-19 will develop a condition known as long Covid, where symptoms continue for more than 12 weeks.

As the total number of confirmed cases in the UK exceeds 3.7 million, long Covid could impact between 185,000 and 370,000, with symptoms ranging from fatigue and shortness of breath to ‘brain fog’ and organ damage.

A recent study of Covid-19 patients discharged from hospitals in England shows that 29 per cent were readmitted within 140 days and 12 per cent died within the same period. Indie Sage also reports that Covid patients in general are three times more likely to be readmitted to hospital than non-Covid-19 patients. Many long term sufferers also develop new diagnoses within 140 days, including diabetes, heart disease and liver disease.

Long Covid can affect people of any age, including those with mild initial symptoms. One UK study found that long term symptoms and organ damage to heart, lungs and liver were common even in those not admitted to hospital.

Independent SAGE is calling for:

- Specialist care centres to be expanded across UK

- Existing national guidelines communicated to all clinicians 

- National databases and research projects to learn more about risk factors, causes and treatments, in partnership with patients

- Data to be collected on cases of Long Covid-19 and presented alongside numbers of cases, hospitalisations and deaths 

- A national register of patients with Long COVID, including those who have not required hospitalisation, to enable long-term follow-up

Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health at the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said: “As we mourn those who have died in this pandemic, we must not overlook the many, of all ages, who have survived with the condition we know as Long Covid. We are only beginning to understand the many ways that it affects those who are afflicted, some with what may be lasting damage. This is why we must do everything possible to drive down and keep down the spread of this virus while we wait for the eventual benefits of the vaccine. ”

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