The long-term impacts of long COVID

Canada’s chief science advisor released a report on long Covid, claiming the illness could trigger a “mass-disabling event” with the potential to ravage healthcare and labour markets. 

Driving the news: The new report raises several red flags about the long-term health implications of long Covid for Canada. It also details an 18-step framework for managing the disease, including creating a nationwide research and clinical care network.

  • Following the report, the federal government announced $29 million for research into long Covid and the development of clinical guidelines. 

Long Covid is described as devastating for those it affects because it can cause a wide range of symptoms for a seemingly indefinite time. A new University of Waterloo study has even linked Covid infections to reduced oxygen flow to the brain, causing long-term issues

Why it matters: Over 1.4 million Canadians have reportedly experienced Covid symptoms three months or more after their initial infections, roughly 15% of all infected adults. While most have recovered, others have had to greatly reduce their workloads or quit their jobs

  • While analysis of long Covid’s socio-economic impact in Canada is scarce, analysis from other countries “indicates significant impacts on the labour market and GDP.”

Bottom line: Medical professionals still don’t have a clear consensus on how to define or diagnose long Covid, but we do know long-term disability claims citing long Covid are on the rise, as is a spike in claims for Covid-related sicknesses like diabetes and mental illness.