Long Covid keeps employees away from work for 6 months, report says

Long Covid keeps employees away from work for 6 months, report says

Covid-19 is still a threat to the job market, although strategies to combat the virus have been developed in recent years and there is an idea that the pandemic is at an end. For example, the acute phase of the infection is normally manageable for most people and, in less than two weeks, the employee returns to his usual duties. However, some individuals are affected, lastingly or permanently, by the disease, developing the condition known as long-term covid.

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To understand, the long covid is characterized by the presence of one or a set of symptoms that affect people recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection. Among the most common reports are: mental fog, fatigue, cough, breathing difficulties and changes in sleep.

Such conditions last at least three months and are more common in individuals who have developed severe forms of the infection — however, even healthy young people can face these consequences. While with the long covid, the worker is not able to deliver 100% of income or remains away, depending on the intensity of the symptoms.

Impact of long covid on the job market

Although the long covid is a very serious complication, science still does not understand its origins and there is a lack of data to draw a faithful picture of its impact on the job market, despite the warnings made by doctors and health professionals. For example, in Brazil, there are no national statistics on the problem.

In the United States, the long-term covid scenario is a little better tracked, but it still lacks national coverage, according to experts. At this point, a report on the condition in workers sheds light on the incidence of the problem in New York State.

The survey was organized by the New York State Insurance Fund — one of the largest insurance companies that assist workers in cases of accidents at work. According to the survey, nearly a third of the 3,139 Covid-19-related insurance claims could be classified as long-term Covid cases.

Analyzing these data from the first two years of the pandemic — between January 2020 and March 2022 —, it was possible to identify that 71% of workers with long-term covid, who resorted to the fund to obtain insurance, needed continuous medical treatment or remained unable to work for at least six months.

A year after the coronavirus infection, 18% of these long-term covid patients had still not returned to work. Among these individuals, more than three-quarters of them were under the age of 60. In other words, they were individuals at the height of their working age.

Long covid numbers are conservative

“It’s a very conservative estimate”, comments Gaurav Vasisht, executive director of the insurance fund, for The New York Times. “It’s not capturing people who may have gone back to work and not sought medical attention and yet may still be experiencing the long Covid,” he adds.

Another point that the executive highlights is the future of these workers away from the long covid. “The longer you’re off work, the harder it is for you to get back to work, and that can stigmatize patients,” he says. The framework “can be highly problematic for the family and professional lives” of these individuals, he adds.

“The report shows that even if deaths from covid-19 have decreased, covid is not over yet and will not end anytime soon”, says David Cutler, professor of economics at Harvard University, on the challenge posed by the long covid.

It is worth remembering that, to reduce the risk of long-lasting covid, a good strategy is to receive the vaccines available against covid-19, including booster doses, according to research led by scientists from the British Institute of National Statistics.

Source: NYT and NYSIF