Note: The following text is a guest article. They reflect the personal views of the author. The article is not an expression of opinion by the Federal Ministry of Health.

Guest article: Stefan Schwartze MdB

Patients suffering from long-COVID are in urgent need of support, writes the Federal Government Commissioner for Patients, Stefan Schwartze MdB, in his guest article.

Published on: 09/08/2023  

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© Copyright Stefan Schwartze

Patients suffering from long-COVID are in dire need of support

The optimal care and appropriate handling of patients suffering from long-term consequences of a corona infection pose an enormous challenge for the health care system. As a patient representative, I often receive letters in which patients report their complaints and the lack of help they experience. It is still far too rare for those affected to receive the medical and socio-legal support and recognition they need and deserve. One of the reasons for this is that they often encounter professionals - for example in doctors' surgeries, courts and authorities - who are still poorly informed about Long COVID. For this reason, I warmly welcome the measures of the Long COVID Initiative of the Federal Ministry of Health, which is a far-reaching initiative to improve the situation of citizens with the disease. The website serves as a first point of contact and is not only aimed at those affected, but also towards doctors and employers. It should be clear to all of us that there is a lot of catching up to do in view of the rising number of people affected. 

One urgent task is to find suitable treatment approaches. My appeal to the pharmaceutical companies is to conduct clinical trials or to support them by providing the drugs that can be further developed for the treatment of Long COVID. 

Another important objective here must be to create better services and care structures for people suffering from Long COVID in all areas of our society. The long-term health consequences include impairments of physical and mental health and sometimes considerably limit the ability to cope with the daily routine and the quality of life. Many affected people can no longer work or can only work part-time. Children and young people are unable to cope with their daily school or training routine. I am appalled that they are still being exposed to false assumptions all too often and are not taken seriously because their symptoms are played down or classified as psychosomatic. Yet it is quite clear: These patients are not slackers or non-achievers, nor do they simply have a depression or personality disorder. No, these affected patients are seriously physically ill and need appropriate counselling and care.

Last but not the least, we need to address people with post-infectious diseases, such as ME/CFS, in our society on a very profound and earnest level. Current research indicates that in many cases, the diagnostic criteria for ME/CFS can be established even with a severe long-COVID course. 

That is why I see great potential in the Long-COVID Initiative for the many people affected by the multisystem disease ME/CFS. It is important to me that the BMG's initiative receives broad support. 


On 12 January 2022, Stefan Schwartze, Member of the Bundestag, was appointed by the Cabinet as the Federal Government's Patient Representative at the suggestion of Federal Health Minister Prof. Dr. Lauterbach. Schwartze, a trained industrial mechanic, was born in Bad Oeynhausen in the year 1974 and has been a member of the SPD since the year 1994. Since 2009, he has been directly elected to the German Bundestag four times in a row for constituency 133 (Herford - Minden-Lübbecke II). In the Bundestag, Schwartze has been spokesperson for the SPD parliamentary group's working group on petitions for the past two legislative periods.