By Travis Decaminada
Key Takeaway: As more information about “long Covid” comes to light, the potential long-term impacts of the disease become clearer. Per reports, not only can long Covid have devastating impacts on a person’s life, but it may also negatively impact the global economy. Reportedly, long Covid may be responsible for over 10 million American jobs going unfilled.
According to information from the Mayo Clinic, most people infected with the Covid-19 virus are expected to recover within a matter of weeks, likely without any long term symptoms. However, for an unfortunate few, Covid-19 infections can reportedly morph into a long-term disease often referred to as “long Covid”. Per the Mayo Clinic, some symptoms of long Covid include:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Joint, muscle, and chest pain
- Memory, concentration, or sleep problems
- Fast or pounding heartbeat
- Loss of smell or taste
- Depression or anxiety
- Dizziness when attempting to stand
- Worsened symptoms after physical or mental exertion
While the above are the most commonly reported symptoms associated with long Covid, far more serious symptoms have also been reported, including “long-term breathing problems, heart complications, chronic kidney impairment, stroke and Guillain-Barre syndrome — a condition that causes temporary paralysis.” Scientists are also examining the long-term potential impacts of related diseases such as SARS for clues about the future of long Covid patients. Reportedly, people infected with SARS are more likely to develop chronic fatigue syndrome, and while science cannot yet confirm that the same is true for Covid-19, the possibility does exist.
Further, although senior citizens and people with other serious medical conditions are reportedly more likely to contract long Covid, cases have been reported in young, otherwise healthy individuals as well. What’s more, some people infected with Covid-19 may also develop a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Ultimately, the Mayo Clinic is quick to point out that many long-term impacts of Covid-19 are not yet known, and more research on the subject is needed.
Potential Economic Impacts
According to a related article from CBC, the societal and economic burdens created by long Covid could be severe, and last for years to come. Per the article, one health expert asserts that between 10 to 14% of people infected with Covid-19 will end up suffering from symptoms of long Covid. Moreover, people suffering with long Covid may also “have difficulty returning to baseline levels of function and have high rates of health-care utilization”, meaning that a great number of individuals may require increased help from their families, and potentially their governments, for years to come.
Long Covid may also be playing a role in the current supply chain crisis, reports Brookings. Per the institution, more than 30 million working age Americans may already be coping with long Covid symptoms, about 1/7th of the overall workforce. Reportedly, other studies have found that between 23 to 28% of people suffering with long Covid may have lost their jobs as a result of their disease; this means that “there may have been about 1.1 million Americans not working due to long Covid at any given time.” Further, according to reports long Covid patients are also more likely to reduce their working hours, potentially by as much as 46%. Finally, per Brookings, long Covid may be responsible for around 15% (10.6 million) of America’s unfilled jobs.
More information about post-covid conditions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
More information about preparing for long covid from the World Health Organization (WHO).