Yesterday, during the COVI workshop: “long COVID” organised by the Special Committee of the European Parliament on the Covid-19 pandemic, Prof. Peter Piot, EU Chief Epidemiologist, opened the workshop by sharing some information related to the scale of the problem:
1) Over 65 million people worldwide are estimated to be suffering from long COVID (Davis et al. 2023 Nature Rev Micro); 17m in WHO European region
2) Prevalence highest in people aged 35 to 69, women, residents in deprived areas, economically inactive, and those with activity-limited health conditions (UK ONS)
3) Economic cost: Estimated $3.7tn (Cutler 2022) to US and an estimated £2.5 billion a year for UK economy
4) Pressure on labour market: In the US up to 4m people estimated to be out of work due to long Covid with an annual cost of lost wages at $170bn a year (Brookings 2022)
5) Initial lack of an agreed definition and use of different study populations and designs led to highly estimates from 5 to 50% after Covid-19, bus most around 10%
6) Vaccination seems to reduce the risk of long Covid by 15% and 50%, ans possibly treatment such as with ensiltrelvir (Shionogi)
Long Covid will also be on the agenda of the next meeting of EU Health Ministers on 14 March.