About one in ten patients infected with COVID-19 in Ontario will experience symptoms that last longer than 12 weeks, experts say.
The Ontario Science Table released new modelling on Tuesday that addresses the issue of long-COVID-19 and the impact it could have on the healthcare system.
So far, the group estimates 57,000 to 78,000 people in the province are currently dealing with long COVID-19.
Sometimes called long-haulers, people with long COVID-19 experience fatigue, shortness of breath, pain, anxiety, depression, and trouble thinking or concentrating that’s known as “brain fog” long after the initial infection has cleared.
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Long COVID-19 is not limited to people who are elderly or in poor health. Long COVID-19 symptoms can affect people of any age or baseline health, and may develop after a relatively mild initial infection.
The Science Table pointed to an increasing number of long-COVID-19 patients as something the healthcare system will have to deal with going forward.
People compromised by an initial COVID-19 infection will need care for chronic conditions they develop afterwards, and people with long-lasting COVID-19 symptoms will make more frequent doctor and hospital visits.
Many long COVID-19 patients have seen their day-to-day life drastically altered.
In one study that followed up with patients 12 months after the initial COVID-19 infection, 12% of COVID-19 long-haulers had not returned to work at all, and of those who did return about a quarter couldn’t take on as many duties as before.
— COVIDScienceOntario (@COVIDSciOntario) September 28, 2021
The Science Table pointed to vaccination as a key preventative measure to reduce future cases of long COVID-19. They say vaccines reduce the chance of getting infected by 85%, and people who are victims of breakthrough infections are 50% less likely to develop long COVID-19.
The Science Table’s modelling also found that Ontario’s Fourth Wave is plateauing, although infections are rising in school-age children who aren’t yet eligible to be vaccinated.