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How pharmacists can help patients with ‘long COVID’

From top left clockwise: Garry McDonald, Harpreet Chana, Tom Cooper and Oksana Pyzik

A panel of experts reveal what symptoms pharmacy professionals may see among patients suffering the long-term effects of COVID-19

Most people who contract COVID-19 make a full recovery. However, there is increasing evidence that a significant minority suffer effects more than three weeks after showing signs of the illness. These include fatigue, headache, cough, loss of smell, sore throat, delirium and chest pain.

Data from the UK COVID-19 Symptom Study, which has been collecting information from nearly four million users, suggests that 10% of people are still having symptoms or lasting effects three weeks after showing signs of the illness, with some suffering for months.

To explore the range of effects of so-called ‘long COVID’ on patients, as well as other health issues emerging after lockdown, C+D clinical editor Naimah Callachand spoke to four medical experts in a webinar that was first broadcast virtually at The Clinical Pharmacy Congress on September 24.

“Tidal wave” of mental health issues

Harpreet Chana, pharmacist and founder of training company The Mental Wealth Academy, said: “I don't want to scare anyone…but I’m being very serious when I say, make no bones about it, we have a tidal wave of mental health issues that are about to hit us.”

Garry McDonald, respiratory pharmacist consultant at University Hospital Crosshouse in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, said: “I’m really worried about the future now – especially coming to the end of 2020 with the flu season on the horizon…[Pharmacy has] taken a licking, I just hope we can keep on ticking.”

Oksana Pyzik, the lead on an infectious diseases programme at University College London’s School of Pharmacy, said: “What we are seeing is that there is an increase…of young people who are not only presenting who are infectious, but who actually do develop symptoms as well.”

Tom Cooper, lead cardiology pharmacist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London, raised concerns about the increased risk of general cardiac injury among patients suffering the long-term effects of COVID-19.

You can listen to highlights from the webinar in the podcast below. Alternatively, subscribe to C+D's podcasts on iTunes or by searching “Chemist+Druggist podcast” on your preferred Android podcast app.


Please note that sound quality may be affected, as this podcast was recorded remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Access the full webinar here after registering on The Clinical Pharmacy Congress website

Read C+D’s CPD article on support for patients living with ‘long COVID'

How has your pharmacy been affected by COVID-19?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

What is the difference between 'Long Covid' and other already well recognised post-viral fatigue syndromes? I was laid up for months when I had glandular fever as a kid but R + R sorted it out. How is this so different?

V K P, Community pharmacist

once again, pharmacy can do everything. bring all the funding along as well then. until such time, no freebies from pharmacy.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

At the risk of repeating myself: Pharmacy has no training in supporting mental health. Whenever it appears in pharmacy, this should only be seen a failure to protect that individual beforehand.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

We're the ones who need the support Leon. If we are to provide help for others, our own mental health needs to be strong otherwise the whole concept would be based on shaky foundations in the extreme and would result in a bad outcome for both parties involved - poor help given by an overstressed pharmacist and that overstressed pharmacist becoming even more stressed as a result of trying to help when in actuality they are crying out for help themselves. It's a lose-lose situation.

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