Study finds long-term Covid risks ‘distorted by flawed research’ Science and Technology News

When it comes to long-term COVID, researchers want to avoid “internationally established” diagnostic criteria as well as narrowly defined symptoms and “umbrella terms.”

Tuesday 26 September 2023 01:13, UK

A new study suggests that the risk of contracting COVID has long been exaggerated due to flawed research, leading to unnecessarily high levels of anxiety about contracting it.

New research argues that “major flaws” in the literature on the condition likely exaggerate the real danger of contracting it.

for most people COVID-19They feel better within a few days or weeks, but some may have symptoms that last more than three months.

Fatigue, brain fog, chest pain and shortness of breath have been reported as symptoms by people who have had long-term COVID – officially known as post-COVID-19 (PASC). -Known as acute sequelae.

Now, researchers from Denmark and the United States, as well as the UK, say “numerous scientific publications” have underestimated long-term COVID risk due to “overly broad definitions, lack of control groups, inappropriate control groups, and other methodological flaws.” The prevalence has been underestimated.

Instead, the authors of the new study argue that the symptoms are common among upper respiratory viruses.

The research team said the lack of definition could lead to increased health care spending and greater anxiety, as well as misdiagnosis and misuse of funds.

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Concern about lots of symptoms and no essential link to COVID

Published in the British Medical Journal Evidence-Based Medicine, the new paper looked at the definition of the condition by several global health organizations – including the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The study argues that while there is “not a causal link required” to COVID-19 infection by any definition, any symptoms occurring after confirmed or suspected infection are consistent with long-term COVID. may be considered.

“In general, in the scientific literature, vague definitions have resulted in more than 200 symptoms being associated with the condition called Long COVID,” the researchers said.

The researchers also said that studies in the early stages of the pandemic are more likely to include fewer patients with mild or no symptoms, which could lead to sampling bias.

They said: “Our analysis indicates that, in addition to including appropriately matched controls, there is a need for better case definitions and more stringent (longer COVID) criteria, including those with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. should include persistent symptoms and include consideration of baseline characteristics, including physical and mental health, that may contribute to a person’s post-COVID experience.”

The paper says future research should include appropriately matched groups as well as “sufficient” follow-up time after infection.

Read more:
Risk of long-term damage to multiple organs – study
Patient says he has lost ‘identity, freedom and happiness’
Doctors suffering from long Covid forced to close work or cut hours

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The study authors also want to see “internationally established” diagnostic criteria and call for future studies to avoid “umbrella terms” and instead “narrowly define” the symptoms.

“Ultimately, biomedicine should help all people who suffer,” the research team said. “To do this, the best scientific methods and analysis must be applied.

“Improper definitions and flawed methods do not serve the people medicine seeks to help.

“Improving the standards of evidence generation is the ideal way to take long-COVID seriously, improve outcomes, and avoid the risks of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment.”

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Study criticized for ‘some strange findings’

However, Dr Adam Jacobs, senior director of biostatistical sciences at Premier Research, said that although the paper “makes some sensible points” it “draws some strange conclusions”.

He added: “It is, of course, inevitable that much of this literature is incomplete.

“Long COVID didn’t even exist four years ago, so researchers had to get to grips with a new and challenging topic at top speed.

“Therefore, it is not surprising that different studies have different estimates of the prevalence of long-term COVID, as the studies used different case definitions, different populations, etc. Is.”

Dr Jacobs said a survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which was closed in March, found that 1.9 million people in the UK have long-term COVID.

He said this was a “surprisingly high” number.

“We don’t know how long those people will be sick,” he said. “If we’re lucky, most of them will be healthy again within a year or two.

“If we’re unlucky, a large number of them could have permanent disability.”

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