Long Covid is a reality. Earlier this month, the Australian government announced a four-phase plan to return us to something resembling normality. Under this plan, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, we will eventually treat COVID-19 “like the flu”.
The hope is vaccines will allow us to live with some transmission without many people getting seriously ill or dying.
But death and hospitalisation aren’t the only outcomes of COVID-19 we need to prevent. New research shows even young people can be left with chronic health problems after infection
COVID-19 can cause lasting health problems
A study of people who were hospitalised for COVID-19 during the first wave in the UK found these patients were four times more likely to be readmitted to hospital and eight times more likely to die than a matched control group over an average follow-up period of four to five months.
The researchers found these people were particularly likely to develop diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease.
People can also experience complications after having the flu, but we’re seeing this more frequently with COVID-19, and the complications are more serious.
A Sydney study found one-third of people with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 were left with persistent symptoms lasting at least two months, including fatigue and shortness of breath. More than 10% had impaired lung function.
Long COVID affects young people too
They estimate nearly one million people are currently living with long COVID in the UK, and 40% of them have been living with the condition for over one year. Two-thirds report being adversely affected in their day-to-day activities as a result of long COVID, and 18% report they are limited a lot.
While children are very unlikely to die from COVID-19, the Office for National Statistics estimate 7-8% of children and adolescents who get infected will develop long COVID.