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A guide to long covid

How long covid will affect the global economy

A hospital staff member is pictured before treating a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Hospital del Mar, where an additional ward has been opened to deal with an increase in coronavirus patients in Barcelona, Spain July 15, 2021.
REUTERS/Nacho Doce
People suffering from long-term effects of Covid-19 face uncertainty about the nature of their symptoms and how long they might last.
  • What is long covid?

    Image copyright: Reuters/Amir Cohen

    A perfect definition is hard to come by, but long covid generally refers to persistent covid symptoms, or new ones, occurring more than four weeks after a person recovers from the illness.
    ​​Researchers have suspected the symptoms, which can range from fatigue to shortness of breath to cardiac issues, could be the result of genetic factors, blood clots, or even viral particles that linger in the body. Other researchers think antibodies that linger after an infection may be causing the immune system to mistakenly attack the body, similar to an autoimmune disease.

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  • What are the symptoms of long covid?

    A study in The Lancet of 1,200 hospitalized covid patients identified some of the most common symptoms of long-term covid:

    68%: Share of patients that reported at least one lingering symptom six months after getting covid

    50%: Share that reported symptoms a year after getting covid

    52%: Percentage of patients that reported fatigue and muscle weakness, the most common long covid symptom

    33%: Percentage of patients that reported respiratory issues a year after covid

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  • How will long covid affect the global economy?

    Researchers are concerned long covid will disrupt people’s lives enough that it will have a detrimental effect on the economy. 

    “We talk about hospitalizations and we talk about deaths, but I don’t hear people saying long covid is an issue. We need to consider that when we adjust our public health measures, when we introduce different measures to try and contain this pandemic, or we decide to not have any measures whatsoever. Economically, that is going to be…. our downfall in the coming years.”

    Dr. Nathalie MacDermott, a specialist in pediatric infectious disease at King’s College London
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  • Will long covid affect employees returning to work?

    As the pandemic continues and more people experience long covid symptoms, there’s worry some employees simply won’t be able to return to work. Others that can return will need more support from their employers.

    In the US, as many as 1.2 million more people identified as having a disability in 2021 compared to a year before. As the number of disabled people in the workforce grows, employers will need to adapt.

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  • What is anosmia?

    Image copyright: Giphy/What We Do in the Shadows

    Anosmia is the medical name for loss of smell. It’s different from parosmia, which is also a side effect of covid, that leads to people perceiving pleasant smells as foul.

    For around 25% of covid patients, anosmia is one of the first—and sometimes only—signs of their illness. Globally, more than 6 million people are likely to have experienced a change in smell or taste because of covid-19.

    For people that rely on their noses to do their jobs—like food scientists, cleaning professionals, brewers, and winemakers—anosmia can be a nightmarish career ender.

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