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Focus – French patients with ‘long Covid’ face uphill battle to recovery

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Jennifer and Matthieu, sufferers of ‘long Covid’, have a lot in common. They’re both in their mid-thirties, caught Covid-19 in March 2020, and suffered mild flu-like symptoms at the time. They have both seen their lives turned upside down as they’ve since struggled with long-term symptoms, including difficulty breathing, trouble concentrating and chest pain. But while treatment programmes for long Covid are now being developed, finding the health professionals to carry them out is another challenge.

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FRANCE 24’s Julia Guggenheim and Claire Paccalin met with patients, researchers and doctors who are trying to understand what causes the mysterious condition of long Covid and how long it will last. 

Don’t miss our two extra reports on those suffering from long Covid:

When 36-year-old Jennifer caught Covid-19 in March 2020, she suffered only mild symptoms. But as the months passed, she began suffering severe chest pains, fevers and had difficulty breathing. Jennifer says she was misdiagnosed and not taken seriously for months until recently, when she learnt that the virus had caused irreversible, severe damage to her heart. With the support group AprèsJ20, Jennifer is lobbying the French Government to recognise long Covid as a major, long-term health condition (affection longue durée, or ALD). This would mean that the state would cover 100 percent of the costs of their treatment, so sufferers would no longer have to pay upfront and wait to be reimbursed by social security or private health insurance, if they have it. Click here to watch the report.

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Meanwhile, Professor Nicolas Barizien is drawing from his extensive experience of treating elite athletes in order to help long Covid sufferers get their lives back. “I’ve noticed that the symptoms elite athletes have when they overtrain are often similar to those experienced by long Covid sufferers,” he explains. FRANCE 24’s reporters met the doctor at Foch Hospital outside Paris during an appointment with Matthieu, a 38-year-old father of two, who’s been suffering months of severe fatigue, shortness of breath and difficulty concentrating. Click here to watch the report.

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