More research is needed to understand the so-called “protracted COVID” condition and the burden it places on the healthcare system, a scientific advisory group said in a report Tuesday.
Ontario’s COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Board, a group that provides guidance to the province on the pandemic, said post-COVID-19 symptoms affect about 10 percent of those infected and can last from weeks to months.
“There is insufficient recognition by both the public and physicians of this condition because it is difficult to define and quantify and because we don’t have much information about it,” said Fahad Razak, lead author of the report. .
A conservative estimate suggests that around 150,000 Canadians who contract the new coronavirus experience prolonged COVID-19 symptoms, Razak said. In Ontario, between 57,000 and 78,000 people are affected.
The most common of more than 200 different symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, general pain or discomfort, anxiety, and depression.
Razak said that people who experience these symptoms have difficulty performing daily activities and require more health care resources.
“The burden will not only fall on the health system, it will also be on other parts of society because many of the disabilities are not only due to medical care, but because of the fact that people cannot return to work, it is that they need a home that supports them, it is a difficulty with work and family life ”, he added.
The World Health Organization has reported that approximately one in four people infected with the virus experience prolonged COVID symptoms for at least a month. Meanwhile, one in 10 people experience symptoms that last longer than 12 weeks.
Ontario’s scientific advisory group said more research is needed on long-term COVID risk factors. Vaccination reduces the chance of developing the post-COVID-19 condition, Razak said.
To date, nearly 84.5 percent of Ontario residents age 12 and older have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 78.2 percent have two doses.
Razak said the latest report from the scientific advisory group analyzed data from previous waves of the pandemic and did not take into account variants of the virus, such as Delta and Alpha.
Over 150,000 people in #Canada experience ‘prolonged COVID’ symptoms: # Covid19 #PostCovid report
“We still don’t have the data to know the impact,” he said. “The concern is that those variants are clearly more infectious, so we potentially run into a problem where we will see even higher rates of the post-COVID condition.”
There is limited Canadian data on health care use patterns for long-term COVID patients, including emergency department visits and hospital admissions, the scientific group said. A pan-Canadian study is currently underway to examine these patterns in long-term COVID-19 patients.
This Canadian Press report was first published on September 14, 2021.
This story was produced with financial assistance from Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.