Around 350,000 people in Germany are understood to suffer from long-term symptoms of a COVID-19 infection, Minister of Education and Research Anja Karliczek told journalists, reports citing Xinhua.
The "treacherous thing" about the post-COVID syndrome, colloquially also called "long COVID," is that "the symptoms occur independently of the course of the disease," regardless of whether the patient had a severe or mild course of COVID-19, Karliczek said.
According to official figures, more than 3.5 million people in Germany had already been infected with COVID-19. One in ten people in Germany is estimated to have struggled with long-term consequences that last for more than three months, she said.
The symptoms of "long COVID" are "very individual and very different," Karliczek said. Around 50 symptoms have been identified in connection with "long COVID," with recurring headaches, extreme exhaustion and breathlessness being the most common.
Karliczek announced a new funding program for further research on "long COVID," for which five million euros (6.1 million U.S. dollars) would be initially available. The results would also guide further research and funding.
"Long COVID will have enormous consequences for our health care system. We are facing a great challenge in society and also a serious cost item," she said.
In March last year, Germany set up a new research network for university hospitals engaged in the fight against COVID-19. The Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports this network with 150 million euros until the end of this year.
To date, almost 3.7 million COVID-19 infections have been officially registered in Germany since the outbreak of the pandemic. The death toll climbed to 88,442 on Monday, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).