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Long COVID-19: Hope for Kenyans as WHO begins drugs study

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Four weeks after Jane Otieno tested negative for Covid-19 in July, she still experiences fatigue.

She says her eyesight is weaker and sometimes she struggles with memory.

“It’s like the disease is still with me,” says the IT specialist from Nairobi’s Westlands area.

The scale of this problem—christened Long-Covid— is growing and local medics are racing to find proper treatment.

Long after they test negative for the coronavirus, more Kenyans are reporting experiencing a host of debilitating symptoms, including shortness of breath, brain fog, and exhaustion.

The problem is global and the World Health Organisation has called on countries to collect standardized data on Long Covid and proposed that the term “Post Covid-19 condition” should be used for people living with Long Covid.

“A significant portion of people diagnosed with Covid-19 subsequently experience lasting symptoms including fatigue, breathlessness and neurological complications months after the acute infection. However, the evidence for this condition is limited and based on small patient cohorts with short-term follow-up,” WHO says in a statement.

An international group of experts in core outcome set development and Post Covid-19 Condition research and clinical practice have developed a programme of research together with WHO, International Severe Acute Respiratory and emerging Infection Consortium, and patient partners to develop a Post Covid-19 Condition core outcome set.

This project, Post-Covid Condition Core Outcomes, will start by surveying people living with Post-Covid-19 condition, assess what outcomes matter and build a plan in two phases.

The first phase will focus on what outcomes should be measured and the second phase will focus on how to measure these outcomes.

“If the study will also be done in Kenya, I will be happy to participate,” says Otieno.

Researchers aim to complete the first phase (what outcomes to measure) in the summer of 2021 and the second phase (how to measure these outcomes) in 2022.

Currently, Kenya is ramping up vaccine supplies as infections surge.

At least 390,000 doses of Johnson and Johnson and 1.7 million doses of Moderna vaccines are expected to arrive in Kenya next week.

The two vaccines are expected in the country on Monday August 23.

This comes as the government received an additional 407,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the UK government.

The vaccines donated via the Covax facility and transported by Unicef arrived at JKIA, bringing the total number of vaccines donated recently to Kenya by the UK to 817,000 doses.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe on Wednesday said another consignment of approximately 400,000 doses from Canada and another consignment of Pfizer vaccines from the US is set to arrive in mid-September.

This is an effort to achieve Kenya’s ambitious plan to have at least 10 million people vaccinated by December and 26 million by June next year.

-The-Star

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