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Long Covid patients travelling abroad for expensive and unproven treatments, investigation finds

Paul Pettinger’s trip to Cyprus came because he felt the NHS had no treatments to offer him.

Paul got Covid in the first wave in 2020. After the initial illness, he was left with extreme tiredness and 10% of the energy he once had.

“I have a very small amount of energy and when I use up my energy, I end up with headaches, brain fog and with cognitive issues. It's very hard to think. And also I can't walk very far,” he says. His life then fell apart and he lost his job. “I have been almost housebound for over two years.” he says adding: “I’ve become a burden on family and friends.”

A joint investigation between ITV News and the BMJ has found that Paul is 1 of around 120 people with Long Covid symptoms who have travelled to Cyprus for treatment. But thousands more have had the treatment in countries spending life changing sums of money.

The Long Covid Center is one of several private clinics offering this treatment - others are in Germany and Switzerland. This is Paul’s seventh session. And, he says, he notices a difference and has confidence in the process.

“After each treatment, I experienced a small improvement,” he says. “It is the only treatment out there at the time being and so far it's working.”

However, experts have raised concerns over whether such invasive and expensive therapies should be offered without sufficient evidence.

“I am worried these patients have been offered therapies which have not been assessed by modern scientific methods – well-designed clinical trials,” said Beverley Hunt, medical director of the charity Thrombosis UK. “In this situation, the treatment may or may not benefit them but, worryingly, also has the risk of harm.”

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Source: ITV News, 12 July 2022


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