"It's not at all a cardio exercise, yet I feel a jump in heart rate, it's not very pleasant," says Anne-Laure Florentin, in the middle of a weight training exercise in her club in Évry.

The three-time European karate champion, who was to represent France at the Tokyo Olympics, had to give up her dream after contracting Covid-19 in October 2020. At first, her symptoms were mild.

She then developed a heart disease called myocarditis, a common sequel to the virus in long Covid patients.

Since then, the slightest physical exercise can be painful.

Affected by myocarditis at the end of 2020, the triple champion of Europe and France #AnneLaureFlorentin is forced to retire prematurely at the age of 29.



She opens up in a touching interview 👇 @ AL_Florentin1

- FFKarate (@ffkarate) April 27, 2021

At the start of the pandemic, scientists first analyzed Covid-19 as a solely respiratory disease that only slightly affected healthy people.

We have also heard for a long time that young people are spared from severe forms.

However, more than a year and a half after the onset of the coronavirus, a number of children and adolescents are living with serious persistent symptoms, which can affect a large number of organs.

From left to right: Mànoa, 12, Meïly, 18, and their mother, Karyne.

All three suffer from some form of long Covid.

© Claire Paccalin, France 24

Karyne Peters and her two children, Meïly, 18, and Mànoa, 12, suffer from a long form of Covid-19.

"For Meïly, it was a weight loss of nearly 17 kg with a hospital stay of nearly three months. For Mànoa, the most disabling is his hypersomnia (the fact of sleeping too much) and his brain fog. And for me. , it's going to be exertion fatigue. "

Karyne had to fight for the medical community to take her children's symptoms seriously.

At the start of the year, the French authorities officially recognized the long Covid and set up a working group to produce recommendations for care.

"I have a feeling of anger not to be listened to by the medical profession at all. I see that it changes a bit for adults, but not at all for children."

Emma and her mother, Marie, who is fighting for recognition of childhood multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

© Claire Paccalin, France 24

A frustration shared by Marie Valdes, the mother of Emma, ​​7, who was affected by a rare form of long Covid, PIMS (acronym in English for Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome, or multisystem inflammatory syndrome of the child).

Eight months ago, the virus attacked Emma's vital organs and sent her to intensive care.

"I still have sequelae. My legs still hurt. Walking ten minutes hurts me, I have to go in the wheelchair."

Marie Valdes created the association Families of children victims of PIMS Covid, with the objective of supporting each other between families, but also to gather information on the disease and to make it known to as many people as possible - especially within the medical world. .

Why does the long Covid affect some people and not others?

How to explain the multitude of symptoms and sequelae?

Improving knowledge on these subjects could help doctors to offer more adequate treatments to patients.

But to move forward, research needs funding.

The United Kingdom has understood this well by putting 18.5 million pounds (or 21.5 million euros) on the table.

In France, the government budget for research on the long Covid is only 2.2 million euros.

With her team, Professor Dominique Salmon-Ceron, an infectious disease specialist who opened the first consultation dedicated to long Covid in France in Paris, proposed four research projects this year - and suffered as many refusals.

His expertise is however recognized in the United Kingdom, where he was offered to participate in the committee of experts responsible for distributing public funding for research on the long Covid.

For the French Ministry of Health, the difference in the amounts of French and British investments is explained as follows: "If the research effort may still seem modest, it is only because too few quality projects have requested a support."

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