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German health minister seeks to improve help for Long Covid sufferers

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach plans to improve the support available to people who are suffering from Long Covid, or the lasting effects of an infection with SARS-CoV-2.

Berlin, 21 January 2023 (dpa/MIA) — German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach plans to improve the support available to people who are suffering from Long Covid, or the lasting effects of an infection with SARS-CoV-2.

He wants to invest in investing in research and provide patients with more information, Lauterbach told the Rheinische Post newspaper.

The Health Ministry plans a hotline as a contact point for people who want to find out more about Long Covid, which would also provide information about diagnosis and new therapeutic approaches.

epa10068201 German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach arrives for the German federal government’s wee?kly cabinet meeting in Berlin, Germany, 13 July 2022. EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER

He said the ministry plans to invest €100 million ($108 million) in research into the way to best care for people with Long Covid. “A significant question, for example, is which form of rehab works. The wrong rehab can result in additional debilitation.”

Broadcaster ARD reported on the ministry’s planned investment on Thursday. Lauterbach has yet to reveal the timing of the investment. It is also unclear whether he will get the necessary funding from the budget, ARD said.

Lauterbach also pointed out that the longer lasting effects of a SARS-CoV-2 infection could also have consequences for society as a whole. “We assume that a relevant proportion of those who fall ill with the coronavirus wind up struggling with Long Covid symptoms,” Lauterbach told the Rheinische Post newspaper.

“Estimates range from 5% to 10%,” he said, adding that this is not only difficult for individual sufferers but could also affect the labor market if the number of those affected keeps rising.

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