WHO Issues New Clinical Advice on Treating COVID-19 Patients

By Reuters Staff

January 27, 2021

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization (WHO) issued fresh clinical advice on Tuesday for treating COVID-19 patients, including those displaying persistent symptoms after recovery, and also said it advised using low-dose anti-coagulants to prevent blood clots.

The WHO advised clinicians to put awake hospitalized patients receiving oxygen or noninvasive ventilation into the prone position, based on low certainty evidence.

Based on very low certainty evidence, the WHO recommends the use of low-dose anticoagulation. ""Higher doses may lead to other problems," Harris said.

However, the U.S. National Institutes of Health announced on Friday that full-dose anticoagulation given to moderately ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients reduces their need for vital organ support (https://bit.ly/39kuRCw). The agency has not released the full data, but study leader Matthew Neal of the University of Pittsburgh said the giving higher doses of blood thinners to patients who are not already critically ill "should become standard of care."

Another addition to the WHO guidance is that COVID-19 patients at home should have the use of pulse oximetry "(to) identify whether someone at home is deteriorating and would be better off having hospital care," WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told a U.N. briefing in Geneva. Pulse oximetry monitoring at home was recommended as part of a package of care, based on very low certainty evidence.

WHO also said patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 of any disease severity who have persistent, new or changing symptoms should have access to follow-up care.

The full guidance from WHO is online here: https://bit.ly/3cdwyU7.

Harris added that a WHO-led team of independent experts, currently in the central Chinese city of Wuhan where the first human cases were detected in December 2019, is due to leave quarantine in the next two days to pursue its work with Chinese researchers on the virus origins.

She declined to commment on reports of delays in roll-out of vaccines in the European Union. She said she had no specific data and the WHO's priority was for health workers in all countries to be vaccinated in the first 100 days of the year.

AstraZeneca, which developed its shot with Oxford University, told the EU on Friday it could not meet agreed supply targets up to the end of March.