Long Covid: shocking scale of disease revealed in Australia

As many as 400,000 Australians are suffering from the long-term effects of Covid and the current situation will only exacerbate that number.

It is now estimated that around 400,000 Australians are suffering from the long-term effects of Covid and this number will increase as Omicron cases rise.

While most people who contract the virus have short-term bouts of illness, it is estimated that about five percent of people infected with Covid-19 have long-term symptoms, including shortness of breath, fatigue, fever, headaches, and cerebrovascular accidents. fog”.

While a small percentage of people continue to suffer from long-term covid, Australia’s sheer number of infections means it is becoming more common.

As a nation, we now average over 30,000 new cases a day, and a total of eight million of us have recovered from the virus since the pandemic began.

Taking into account the 5% figure, this means that approximately 400,000 Australians could become truckers – and this is a conservative estimate.

There is still no clear consensus on what constitutes a case of long-term Covid, the proportion of people suffering from long-term systems varies from 5 to 50 percent, depending on the definition, the population studied and the time frame. used.

“I think we’re landing in an area where, roughly speaking, let’s say 10 percent of people who have been infected have three months of long-term Covid, which is the critical point when it’s really ‘long-term Covid’,” the economist at health care. This was announced by Professor Martin Henscher. Saturday newspaper.

His team of researchers found that persistent illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease, likely account for about half of the total health burden of Covid-19, and that prolonged Covid alone accounts for about 10 percent of the impact.

That was before Omicron, and now the impact could be even higher as the number of cases skyrockets in Australia.

“Worst cause of long-term disability in Australia”

The University of Sydney released an editorial today calling for more attention and support for the growing number of Australians with long-term covid, which he says “could even be Australia’s biggest cause of long-term disability”.

It states that Australia’s health, welfare and disability services are not sufficiently prepared for growth.

“While the majority of people infected with Covid recover unaided, the five percent who have long-term Covid often require medical attention to help them recover. This support can be intense and take time,” say university researchers.

“We also have very little information on the number of people with long-term covid, as Health Secretary Mark Butler acknowledged last week.”

One of the key issues in solving the problem is the task of determining long-term Covid.

To determine it, different timeframes are used. According to the Australian Department of Health, a person experiences long-term Covid when their symptoms persist four weeks after they first had Covid.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization says that protracted Covid usually starts three months after infection, lasts at least two months, and cannot be explained by another diagnosis.

Whatever the definition, the number of people suffering from symptoms long after contracting coronavirus is on the rise.

The University of Sydney says this means we need:

• Long-term Covid surveillance to track indicators, symptoms, and impact on work and quality of life over time.

• Better support and resources for GPs to treat long-term Covid in primary care.

more specialized long Covid clinics for those with more complex issues

• Disability support for people whose problems become long lasting

• Research to understand protracted Covid and how best to treat it.

“In the US, President Joe Biden has pushed for people with long-term covid to have access to federal disability support. We need a similar plan in Australia,” the researchers said.

“Let’s not repeat the mistakes of stigmatizing and ignoring earlier post-viral or post-infection syndromes such as chronic fatigue syndrome. The devastating impact on those who struggle to receive a diagnosis, adequate treatment and support is still being felt.”

The University of Sydney added that people who are vaccinated are less likely to get long-term Covid illness, with rates lower among those who have received a booster.

New study helps demystify Covid brain fog

This is because a small new study published this week by scientists at the US National Institutes of Health suggests that the immune response triggered by coronavirus infections damages blood vessels in the brain and may be responsible for long-lasting coronavirus symptoms.

Article published in the journal Brainwas based on autopsies of the brains of nine people who died suddenly after being infected with the virus.

Rather than detecting signs of Covid in the brain, the team found that people’s own antibodies attacked the cells lining the brain’s blood vessels, causing inflammation and damage.

The discovery could explain why some people experience lingering effects of the infection, including headache, fatigue, loss of taste and smell, inability to sleep, and brain fog, and could help develop new treatments for long-term Covid.

NIH scientist Avindra Nath, senior author of the paper, said in a statement: “Patients often develop neurological complications with Covid-19, but the underlying pathophysiological process is not well understood.”

“We have previously shown blood vessel damage and inflammation in the brains of patients at autopsy, but we did not understand the cause of the damage. I think that in this article we have gained an important insight into the cascade of events.”

Nine people, aged 24 to 73, were selected from the group’s previous study because they showed signs of damage to blood vessels in their brains based on scans.

Their brains were compared to those of 10 controls, with the team examining neuroinflammation and immune responses using a technique called immunohistochemistry.

Scientists have found that the antibodies produced against Covid-19 are mistakenly targeted to cells that form the “blood-brain barrier,” a structure designed to protect the brain from harmful invaders and let essential substances through.

Damage to these cells can cause proteins to leak, bleed, and clot, which increases the risk of stroke.

Leaks also cause immune cells called macrophages to rush to the site of damage, causing inflammation.

The team found that the normal cellular processes in the attacked areas were severely disrupted, with implications for things like their ability to detoxify and regulate metabolism.

The findings provide insight into the biology of patients with long-term neurological symptoms and may inform new treatments, such as a drug that targets the accumulation of antibodies at the blood-brain barrier.

“It is possible that the same immune response persists in long-term covid patients, leading to neuronal damage,” Nat said.

This would mean that a drug that suppresses the immune response could help these patients, he added. “So these discoveries have very important therapeutic implications.”

– with AFP

Originally published as Shocking extent of prolonged Covid in Australia revealed