08 March 2023 at 04:58
The government should invest money in a central and long-term study of the post-covid syndrome in the Netherlands. Pulmonologist Leon van den Toorn (Erasmus MC) and professor of Internal Medicine Michèle van Vugt (Amsterdam UMC) advocate this. Now they have to disappoint people with long-term complaints after corona.
It is estimated that tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of people in our country have post-covid syndrome. Van Vugt finds it “very harrowing” to see that a relatively large number of people are affected by the disease and that doctors “have little to offer that group at the moment”.
Van den Toorn adds: “But as long as we cannot conduct specialized and joint research in the Netherlands, we will not get any further together. That is very frustrating, for patient and doctor.”
According to him, there are enough doctors and researchers who want to do more extensive research into the post-covid syndrome. But what holds them back is a shortage of money. That is also the reason that the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam and the Amsterdam UMC have recently considerably scaled down their post-covid care. In Amsterdam, only one of the four post-covid clinics is still open. Erasmus MC has stopped a specialized post-covid program.
Post-covid syndrome was until recently known as lung covid. On the advice of the Health Council, the name has been changed and we now speak of the post-covid syndrome when it comes to persistent complaints after corona. Post means ‘after’ in English. The complaints come after corona.
Still looking for the cause
As a result, both hospitals can do little for people with long-term complaints after corona. “We can offer them hope, or help them deal with the complaints. Sometimes an antidepressant helps. But what helps one person does not necessarily work for another,” says Van Vugt.
And with that she gets to the heart of the problem. Doctors and researchers still do not know exactly what causes the post-covid syndrome. That is why there is still no treatment against the disease that has been proven to help. If that treatment had been available, financing probably wouldn’t have been a problem either.
Several separate studies have been conducted into post-covid in recent years. They were always short, “because then the money was gone,” says Van den Toorn. “What you want is a large funded project with a few large centers in the Netherlands that has about three or four years to sort everything out.”
Some people have long-term complaints if they have had corona. If those complaints last longer than three months. is there post-covid syndrome. Patients often have various complaints such as:
Fatigue Concentration problems Memory problems Shortness of breath Hypersensitivity to light and sound Headaches Gloominess and irritability Sleeping problems Muscle pain Dizziness
The symptoms can last for months or sometimes longer. In some people, the symptoms disappear over time.
Waiting for what Minister Kuipers wants now
Van Vugt joins the pulmonologist. “The complaints associated with the post-covid syndrome are very broad. That is why we have to combine different research groups.” Unraveling the underlying causes of the post-covid syndrome should be the first goal, she says. “We now partly know that. The next step is to arrive at a treatment.”
Minister Ernst Kuipers (Public Health) considers it “of great importance to combine knowledge and expertise”. He wants to let the House of Representatives know this month how he envisions that exactly. In any case, “a physical center of expertise in one place” is not his preference. In the meantime, he is also looking for ways for the Netherlands to join European studies into the post-covid syndrome.