This Isn’t COVID’s Final Act – We must keep the virus, and long COVID, center stage

By Stuart Katz, MD, Alice Perlowski, MD, MA, and Brittany Taylor, MPH, Medpage Today

This year marks the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over time, as the virus morphed and continued to disrupt our daily lives, people around the world grew tired of COVID restrictions. As a result, we saw mask mandates lift, social distancing practices fade, and vaccination rates decline as more shots became available. Understandably, people were — and still are — longing for pre-pandemic normalcy. Nonetheless, a looming reality remains: With hundreds of deaths and thousands of hospitalizations each week in the U.S. alone, the pandemic is neither over nor behind us.

To date, there have been more than 770 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide. While ranges vary, approximately 10% of adults in the U.S. who have contracted the virus are currently experiencing long-term symptoms. Persistent fatigue, cognitive issues, shortness of breath, and chest pain often top the list of reported maladies. For some, these symptoms resolve after a few months, but many others report debilitating health issues for years, causing them to seek employment in less demanding jobs or leave the workforce altogether. Many of those who endure these persistent symptoms — which we’ve all come to know as long COVID — experience disruption in their everyday lives, often reaching beyond the physical realm.

Recent estimates show that the average cost of long COVID care per person is approximately $9,000 per year, with families of patients often sharing that financial responsibility. What’s more, though long COVID has been recognized as a disability, some people have reported barriers to filing successful insurance claims, adding healthcare costs to an already heavy burden of chronic illness. Read More…