Long Covid: After-effect hits up to 400,000 Australians

From The Saturday Paper, 9 July 2022:

Today, James is feeling about a two out of five. The young lawyer is reasonably articulate on the phone. He might be able to read a single news article today, maybe even go for a short walk. On a “five out of five” day, he can do four hours of lighter duties – analysing legislation, some emails – but nothing like the intense legal work he was doing full-time eight months ago.

When he’s at zero, he’s immobilised on the sofa, unable to compose a two-sentence text message or string together enough words to speak to his partner, Matilda. Getting up to go to the bathroom is a marathon. The sound of a plastic bag crinkling is like someone screaming in his face.

James, whose name has been changed, spends half the day battling to stay awake. At night, he can’t sleep for more than four or five hours. His heart is constantly racing and he is plagued by intense headaches. If he has two good days in a row and makes the most of that, the price is being back at zero for the following three or four days: “Basically a living, breathing shell,” he says.

This is long Covid. James’s symptoms are severe, but an estimated 400,000 Australians are in a similar boat. With Omicron surging again, that number is going to increase. Estimates of the rate of long Covid in people who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 range from 5 per cent all the way to 50 per cent, depending on the definition, the population studied, and the time frame used. Read more (paywall).

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