Long Covid places strain on Australian economy

The dire toll of a horrible Covid-19 health side effect will negatively affect the economy for years to come, according to Australian Medical Association president Professor Steve Robson.

Ongoing inconvenient and frustrating symptoms that for many Australians remain as present as ever following their initial Covid infection will continue to place strain on the country’s already struggling economy, Professor Robson said.

He implied in the sharing of a meme to Twitter on Wednesday that Australia’s economic recovery from the pandemic was being held back by people with long Covid.

In his post he shared a Jama Network report titled The Costs of Long Covid which the health and economic consequences of long Covid would be just as substantial “as those due to acute illness”.

The report highlighted the way mortality was “not the only adverse consequence of Covid-19”, with a huge volume of survivors suffering long-term impairment commonly called long Covid but officially termed postacute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Long Covid, defined by symptoms more than 30 days after an acute infection, has received a small volume of attention in comparison to the acute infection, the report argued lasting.

“The relatively meagre attention that has been paid for long Covid is unfortunate because its health and economic consequences are likely to be every bit as substantial as those due to acute illness,” it said.

Among the direct implications of long Covid on the economy is the reduced capability of people with the condition to be able to work as much as they otherwise would.

In the US, a survey found that 44 per cent of people with long Covid were no longer part of the workforce, while 51 per cent had to work fewer hours.

In the event one million people were out of work because of long Covid, there would be more than $50 billion in lost income.

Those worst affected by cases of long Covid also disproportionately worked in service jobs like retail, hospitality and health care.

Subsequent staff shortages across these workforces contributions to the driving up of wages and prices, suggesting long Covid may have played a role in surging inflation.

An October 2020 analysis estimated the pandemic could cost the US trillions from long Covid alone – an estimate that was proving accurate.

Long Covid in Australia

Long Covid has already cost the Australian economy three million working days this year, according to a government analysis.

The treasury report found that lingering effects of Covid had been keeping some 31,000 Australians away from work every day.

“The thousands of workdays the economy is losing to long Covid is just one part of a complex picture, and gives a sense of what we are all up against,” Treasurer Jim Chalmers said.

This mirrors how long Covid is characterized by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which lists a wide variety of respiratory, heart, digestive and even neurological symptoms.

A comprehensive study published in the Lancet found that one-in-eight people who get Covid develop at least one long Covid symptom.

Originally published as Dire prediction of long Covid’s toll on Australia’s suffering economy

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