Local Independent Deputy, Denis Naughten, has called on Government to treat the surge in long Covid patients with the same urgency as the initial Covid-19 infections.
Symptoms of long Covid include fatigue and brain fog, which are experienced at least three months after the initial infection for significant periods of time, in some cases over two years. Professor Jack Lambert of the Mater Hospital told the Oireachtas Health Committee recently that patients with the condition “act very much like patients who have experienced closed head injuries”
Deputy Naughten has provided the first analysis and county by county breakdown of the 336,451 adults nationally who are likely to be suffering from long Covid based on research conducted in Ireland and the Netherlands.
“The reality is that such a large number of long Covid patients presenting to our health service with complex health conditions will overwhelm our hospitals as we begin to plan for a winter of hospital overcrowding. In addition these services will be put under considerable pressure due to recurring waves of further Covid-19 illness.
“We cannot just sleepwalk into a crisis of chronic illness, which will push people waiting on treatments since before the pandemic even further down already horrendous waiting lists. We need to see this surge of long Covid patients managed with a co-ordinated response from Government, which based on responses that I have received previously has not been forthcoming.
“The numbers are just staggering. Dublin has the highest number of patients suffering the long-term effects of Covid-19 with 100,650, with County Leitrim at the other end of the scale with 2,075 patients. However, by population County Carlow has the most patients with long Covid at 4,750 yet their neighbours in County Wicklow having the lowest incidence of long Covid by population at 8,636, followed closely by County Wexford at 9,093.
“These figures are based on research published earlier this month in The Lancet by a team of researchers in the Netherlands who have attributed long Covid symptoms to 12.7% of patients infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and research on blood donors published last month by Ireland’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre which indicates that 69% of adults in Ireland have been infected by the virus.
“In fact, The Lancet paper has described long Covid as ‘the next public health disaster in the making’, which clearly indicates that Government must now treat this illness and the patients with it as a matter of the utmost priority,” Deputy Naughten asserted.