# Medical Monitor

## A monthly newsletter for health care professionals

Long COVID: A looming challenge for health care

Long COVID is a term used to describe the persistent symptoms and complications that some people experience after recovering from acute COVID-19 infection. These may include fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, brain fog, anxiety, depression, and more. Long COVID can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or severity of initial illness. It can also impair a person's ability to work, study, socialize, or perform daily activities. Also, it may be fatal for individuals with underlying Cardio-Pulmonary illness.

The exact prevalence and causes of long COVID are still unknown, but some estimates suggest that up to 30% of COVID-19 survivors may develop it. The health impact of long COVID often disrupts a person's ability to engage with school, work, or family life[^1^][5]. As health care professionals, we need to be aware of this emerging condition and provide appropriate care and support for our patients who suffer from it.

Some strategies that may help us manage long COVID include:

  • Screening patients for long COVID symptoms at follow-up visits or referrals.

  • Providing patient education on self-care measures such as pacing activities, managing stress, and seeking mental health support.

  • Coordinating multidisciplinary care teams that can address the physical, mental, and social aspects of long COVID.

  • Participating in research and data collection on long COVID to improve our understanding and treatment options.

Long COVID is a complex and evolving issue that requires ongoing attention and collaboration among health care professionals. By recognizing its signs and symptoms early on, we can help our patients cope with this challenging condition.

#### Health inequity: A call for action

Health inequity refers to the unfair and avoidable differences in health outcomes, access, quality, and affordability of health care among different groups of people, such as those based on race, ethnicity, gender, income, geography, disability, etc.[^2^][1] [^3^][2]

COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated existing health inequities among marginalized populations, who are more likely to contract, suffer complications, die from, or be denied treatment for COVID-19[^2^][1] [^3^][2] [^4^][3].

These disparities are not only unjust but also costly for society as a whole.

As health care professionals, we have a moral and professional obligation to address health inequity in our practice and organization.

We can do this by:

  • Educating ourselves on the social determinants of health and how they affect our patients' well-being.

  • Engaging in training on implicit racial bias, social determinants of health, anti-racism, etc., and evaluating their impact on our practice.

  • Advocating for policy changes that promote equity and inclusion in health care delivery and financing.- Partnering with community organizations that work to improve the living conditions and opportunities for marginalized groups.

  • Conducting research on health inequity issues and sharing best practices with other colleagues.

Health inequity is a complex problem that requires collective action from all stakeholders in society.

By taking these steps, we can contribute to making health care more fair and accessible for everyone.

Omicron: What you need to know;

Omicron is a highly transmissible variant of SARS-CoV-2 that emerged in November 2021 and has since spread to more than 200 countries.

It has several mutations that may affect its ability to evade immunity from previous infection or vaccination, as well as its severity and clinical outcomes.

Some of the latest findings and developments on omicron are:

  • The COVID-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid continues to work against omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, reducing hospitalization and death by 89% among high-risk patients.

  • Doctors are reporting that omicron causes more mild disease than previous variants, but also more breakthrough infections among vaccinated people, especially those who have not received a booster shot.

  • Omicron is taking a toll on mental health, as people face uncertainty, anxiety, stress, isolation, fatigue, and burnout amid rising cases and restrictions [^4^][3]

  • Vaccines remain effective against preventing severe illness and death from omicron, but they may need to be updated with a new formulation that matches the variant’s spike protein mutations.