Published On: Tue, Jan 26th, 2021

WHO issues new guidance on oxygen levels to better monitor Covid-19 patients

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued new advice on how to prevent Covid-19 patients who are recovering at home from deteriorating, including measuring oxygen levels and using anticoagulants to prevent blood clots.

The new medical guidance was announced at a UN briefing in Geneva on Tuesday, where WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris laid out evidence-based advice to prevent the condition of Covid patients worsening by providing them with a higher level of care and reducing hospital admissions, alleviating the heavy demand on healthcare systems around the world.

One of the key suggestions is using pulse oximetry, the non-invasive monitoring of oxygen levels in a person’s bloodstream, as well as putting patients in the prone position – meaning, lying on their front – to improve their oxygen flow. Doctors also advocated for the use of low-dose anticoagulants to help prevent potential blood clots forming within susceptible patients.

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“COVID-19 patients at home should have the use of pulse oximetry, that’s measuring the oxygen levels, so you can identify whether [the patient’s condition] is deteriorating and would be better off having hospital care,” Harris said.

The new guidance comes at a time where the vaccine rollout, particularly in the EU, is at risk of being hampered due to supply issues with pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech. Both companies have advised that they might not be able to meet demand in the next few months, potentially being forced to reduce deliveries.

Asked about the supply concerns, Harris said only that the organization has no specific data on that issue. She stressed that the WHO is still aiming to ensure medical professionals in all countries are vaccinated within the first 100 days of 2021.

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