No prospect of Long Covid treatment: ‘Many patients are extremely desperate’

Jean-Paul from Oosterhout underwent oxygen treatment a year ago in the fight against Long Covid. He has been doing a lot better since then. Jean-Paul is just one of many who grasps every straw to get rid of the serious aftermath of a corona infection. “We see a lot of people who are extremely desperate and are trying everything to get better.”

Almost four years after the outbreak of the corona pandemic, many people are still at home with so-called Long Covid complaints. They cannot concentrate well, have little energy, quickly become overstimulated and often have headaches or palpitations. There are not yet many reliable treatments against the disease. Scientific evidence is lacking.

The waiting makes people desperate, says patient organization PostCovidNL. “People are now just trying to reinvent the wheel,” says director Diewke de Haen. They try all kinds of treatments, medications and supplements. Anything to feel better. “It takes three to five years before a new treatment is proven effective and included in government guidelines. They really can’t wait that long.”

Since the beginning of this year, many people have also been reporting to clinics that offer oxygen therapy. People then sit in a cabin where the pressure is increased and breathe in pure oxygen through a mask. This ensures that damaged tissue repairs, including through better blood flow and the production of stem cells. You can undergo such a treatment at the Da Vinci clinics in Waalwijk and Geldrop.

According to PostCovidNL, it is not a proven treatment. “The only thing we can say to patients is that the effect of oxygen therapy has not been scientifically proven. That is sometimes frustrating for them.”

“I am very shocked by the reactions.”

Jean-Paul van der Heijden from Oosterhout was one of the first Long Covid patients to receive oxygen treatment in Waalwijk a year ago. Since then he has felt completely like his old self again. “I’m back to work fully,” he says proudly. “Although I also saw many people for whom the treatment did not work.”

After his treatment, Jean-Paul noticed how dire the need was for many people. Since his treatment, he has received calls every day from people wanting advice. “I initially shared my telephone number and wanted to help everyone, but at one point I had a day job. I was very shocked by the many reactions.”

“I find it distressing that patients have to pay for this themselves.”

The Da Vinci clinics in Waalwijk and Geldrop also notice that many people are looking for a solution. They have also been offering their oxygen therapy for Long Covid patients since the beginning of this year. “We receive calls every day from people with Long Covid,” says doctor and director Nina Lansdorp.

Last year, scientific Israeli research showed that oxygen therapy, normally used for conditions such as radiation damage, can also work for people with Long Covid. The long-term effects of the treatment have not been investigated here.

“After that research, the ball started rolling worldwide. Based on that research, we also started treating patients with Long Covid. We ask all patients to complete questionnaires, also three and twelve months after treatment, to assess the effects on can be measured in the long term,” says Lansdorp.

A treatment program for this oxygen therapy costs about eight thousand euros. This is not reimbursed by health insurance. “I find it very distressing that we have to make patients pay for this themselves. Our rates are determined by the Dutch Healthcare Authority. Our treatments are reimbursed for other conditions.” Lansdorp therefore sees that many employers of people with Long Covid are coming to help. “For example, they pay half of the treatment, because they also want those people to be able to go back to work.”

To really approve it as a proven treatment, more research needs to be done, according to authorities. Until then, Long Covid patients have to wait.


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