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Strategies and policies to tackle the problems associated with long COVID

09 September 2021
Volume 30 · Issue 16


Emeritus Professor Alan Glasper, from the University of Southampton, discusses strategies and polices designed to address rising levels of long COVID in society in the aftermath of the pandemic

On 15 June 2021 NHS England and NHS Improvement (2021a) published Long COVID: The NHS plan for 2021/22, which seeks to build on the previous NHS England and NHS Improvement (2020) five-point plan for long COVID support.

This is a timely publication as the decision to end England's remaining COVID-19 restrictions on 19 July 2021 was highly controversial because cases of the Delta variant have continued to surge around the country. This has given rise to fears that the pandemic might continue to accelerate, leading to a significant rise in the number of people left with symptoms of long COVID (also known as post-COVID-19 syndrome) (Sample, 2021).

Del Rio et al (2020) reported that, by the end of the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were some 30 million-plus documented infections, with 1 million deaths worldwide. Since then the pandemic has continued to infect and kill people on a scale not seen since the early 20th century pandemic caused by Spanish flu. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the experiences of those people infected by the virus range from asymptomatic infection through to life-threatening illness requiring intensive care interventions and fatal disease. Current estimates are that approximately 20 million people globally have recovered from the infection, but there are concerns that the number of people who have lingering and long-term persistent and severe symptoms following infection, now known as long COVID, is increasing (Del Rio et al, 2020).

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