MONTREAL – The long COVID remains a mystery to researchers, but some elements of this affliction are slowly unfolding.
In providing an update on the pandemic situation on Wednesday, National Director of Public Health Dr Luc Boileau acknowledged that “there is no specific cure” for the longstanding COVID, the existence of which no longer exists is disputed and has been around for a while. ‘of time.
At best, we found, “one of the treatments is to vaccinate people even after they have been infected in their long-term COVID period. It seems to be producing significant results. “
Furthermore, on this topic, the researchers have nonetheless established some constants, in particular the fact that long COVID is more frequent in people who have not been vaccinated and that it is especially very ill patients who have been hospitalized who are most at risk of developing it.
The frequency also appears to vary enormously between surveys. Dr Boileau explained that recent work from the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ) reports a rate of between 20% and 30% among health care workers.
At the same time, many international studies report quite a frequency of 7% to 10% of infected people who will develop a long COVID, according to Dr Boileau.
On the other hand, the duration of the long COVID is also a source of uncertainty. “It doesn’t last forever. It will decrease in the first month. (…) However, there are people who persist in having these symptoms.”
The symptoms themselves are inconsistent, he said. “It can be a change in taste; it can be fatigue; it can be breathing difficulties; it can be many things. It’s not specific. “
Fortunately, the data shows that long COVID is less present in cases of Omicron variant infection. “There have been more with the variants we knew before. The Delta in particular has devastated ”.
Much less affected children and adolescents
At his side, pediatrician and infectious disease specialist Caroline Quach, from Sainte-Justine hospital, confirmed that children and adolescents had demonstrated much stronger resistance to the virus.
“There is a large percentage of them who got it, but a very small percentage have been hospitalized,” he said.
“Honestly, compared to adult hospitals where they had 80,100 hospitalized patients, our worst is 5 to 10 hospitalized at any given time in Sainte-Justine, so it really has nothing to do with risk in the adult population.
Additionally, he added, several hospitalizations were more preventative to keep an eye out for feverish and more vulnerable children.
However, some children suffered from the infection. “In general, those who requested hospitalization were often immunocompromised or had underlying medical conditions.”
Vaccination of the mother
Maternal vaccinations also played a role, particularly in the case of children, he said.
“Even very young children were another risk group where there were more hospitalizations, particularly those under the age of three months, particularly those born to unvaccinated mothers. Those had slightly more serious complications, kind of like the first time these groups of children encountered a respiratory virus.
Dr Quach explained that “in the first months of life a respiratory virus is much more difficult to manage only from a physiological and anatomical point of view: we have smaller airways, we get cluttered with our secretions and are unable to expel them. “.
As for the teenagers, they too were hardly affected.
“They’ve had a little bit of childhood multisystem inflammatory syndrome, but again, since the vaccination came, we seem to see less of it.
“In general, pediatrics have done very, very well,” he said.
All indicators down
Regarding the epidemiological situation, Dr. Boileau believes that Quebec is going “in the right direction” and reiterates that the removal of the mask in public places will go ahead as planned from Saturday.
“Deaths, hospitalizations, absences of health workers, all these indicators continue to decrease and show us that we were right to make sure to gradually start a return to normal in a prudent way”.
Mr. Boileau, who announced that his press conferences from now on would be less frequent, reminded everyone that the booster dose, also called the third dose, is always recommended.
However, the second booster dose – or fourth dose – is only recommended for a few specific groups: CHSLD residents or retirement homes, people living in other environments with a large percentage of elderly or vulnerable people, people of the same age or over 80 years old, immunocompromised people and very vulnerable people living in an isolated or remote community.
The fourth dose is not recommended for other groups, he noted, but is available for those wishing to get it.
Dr Boileau indicated that health authorities continue to monitor the evolution of the pandemic, “so as not to be surprised by new variants”.