Covid Is Not Over

Covid is not over and anyone who thinks it is, is ignoring the reality around them.

I live this chronic illness life. I’ve lived it for eight years now. Every. Single. Day. My biggest concern is the increase we are seeing and will continue to see in the numbers of chronically ill people worldwide as a result of Covid-19 infection or infectionS – yes, plural – with multiple infections: researchers are telling us in no uncertain terms, the chances of unfavourable long term outcomes increases with each infection.

This is NOT just a health question. In broad terms, we hear arguments of economy versus health, or health versus economy, whichever you prefer. The simple fact that the health of the population impacts the health of the economy seems to escape many people. There is no healthy economy without healthy people. Let’s be very clear on that. The economy needs workers and it needs customers. Without sufficient numbers of both, businesses close. End of story. Yes, I am sorry, it IS that simple.

Let us look at some facts, but agreed facts are hard to come by. Current estimates are varying. A CDC study estimates 20% of Covid-19 patients end up with Long Covid. Other estimates are higher, some are lower. The one thing that is certain, it is a problem.

Whatever long Covid’s toll turns out to be, it will be too many people. However you gather or analyze the data, experts told STAT, the proportion of people whose troublesome, sometimes disabling symptoms linger after their acute Covid-19 infections clear is sizable and worrying. It’s the cruelty of large numbers: Even if the actual prevalence of long Covid is much smaller than recent estimates, a small percentage of a large number is a large number.

Covid-19 should be a serious operational consideration for any business, large or small. In very simple terms, sick people who can’t work don’t have money to spend. The economy, including your business, will suffer as a result. It is a double whammy, as there is the risk of lack of workers and lack of customers. We already see supply chain disruption when any of us visit our local supermarket.

A healthy economy is dependant on a healthy population. A person suffering severe fatigue and/or malaise does not go out for dinner at restaurants. A person no longer able to work does not buy new suits. A person no longer able to pay their rent or mortgage may end up homeless.

The risk is not people simply catching Covid-19. Yes, some people are asymptomatic. Or their case is mild. The risk is under the current lack of protections, those people continue working. While working, they are spreading the virus to other workers, potentially to customers. Spread, as we well know, leads to new variants.

We already know the latest variants are evading existing immune responses (from prior infection or vaccination). That potentially leads to more cases. That leads to less workers and less customers.

This is where the economic hit comes. One study estimated 5% to 12% of people infected with Covid go on to develop Long Covid. Long Covid can affect the brain, heart, lungs, pancreas, and other organs, with common symptoms including weakness, general malaise, fatigue, headache, concentration impairment, hair loss, shortness of breath and coughing. We are already seeing waiting lists for Long Covid rehabilitation clinics blow out to more than five months.

As noted earlier, in some jurisdictions the estimates are higher (emphasis added):

That 20% figure, from a recent CDC analysis of millions of health records, implies that tens of millions of Americans — a fifth of people infected with Covid — have at least one lingering post-infection symptom that is seriously affecting their daily life. Compared to other estimates, like an April meta-analysis that puts global long Covid at closer to 50% or a June household survey from CDC saying 1 in 3, it’s even on the low side.

Given we have a range of estimates, let’s go with the middle ground and use 12% for illustrative purposes. Remember, there are leaders in various fields who are trying to sell the idea that we will all get Covid in the end so just let it rip and be done with it. If we are stupid enough to accept that proposition, then we can estimate 12% of the population will ultimately suffer from Long Covid. At this point in time we don’t know how long Long Covid actually is. 6 months? 18 months? 2 years? Life? The time may vary depending on the type of Long Covid. We don’t know enough yet to make any firm calls on this.

The accounting profession likes to forecast income and expenses using the conservative approach – i.e., we don’t forecast on “best case” scenarios. What is the cost to YOUR business if you lose 12% of your employees because they can no longer function in their role? That’s an increase in casual staff costs while your permanent staff are on sick leave. Or you lose 12% of your customers because they are now chronically ill or disabled and can no longer work? Or 12% of your customers can now only afford to spend 50% (or less) of what they used to be able to spend because they can no longer work their usual hours and their discretionary expenditure is now severely limited?

Then there is the occupational health and safety aspects. At some point in the probably not too distant future an employee will contract Covid-19 at work, become disabled, and sue due to an unsafe work environment. The first case may not win, but the costs involved to defend the action could be considerable. Think back to asbestos as an example of something that was once considered safe but ultimately proved not to be. No employer would expose their employees to asbestos without safety protections in 2022.

Businesses will also suffer from loss of customers because many people do not want to catch Covid-19 because of their own specific health risks. I am one of those people and was interviewed as a vulnerable person by SBS News.

She hasn’t been to a large shopping centre such as Chadstone or Fountain Gate in Melbourne for more than two years, and still schedules her grocery shopping trips for quieter periods.

Attendance at venues drops with each wave. Theatres, pubs, clubs, gyms will all suffer. People shop on-line rather that venture into shops. When does a business decide to close an outlet and retrench the staff? Is this good for the economy? No, of course not, because now those retrenched people have less disposable income too. It becomes an ever-increasing problem. An ever increasing health problem due to more Covid infections, more Long Covid patients, new variants. An ever-increasing economic problem die to increased health care costs, less disposable income, less spending, worker shortages.

Mitigations against spread are necessary to ensure we maintain a healthy society and a healthy economy. These mitigations include clean air, mandatory isolation of the infected, masks indoors and vaccines.

Covid-19 is not just a health issue. Do not be complacent.

Dr David Berger has been vocal on the topic.

The pleasing notion that COVID has now been vanquished, however, that it has been turned into “just another seasonal upper-respiratory virus” by vaccination, “hybrid” immunity from repeated infection and natural attenuation of the virus itself, is not supported by the facts.

Dr Berger points to reports of new variants.

A “variant soup” of coronavirus has arrived in Victoria and experts warn the new Omicron offshoots will be better at evading immunity and will soon drive up infections….

… Doctors warn they are increasingly treating people who have been infected with coronavirus “three or four times”. Infectious diseases physician Associate Professor Paul Griffin said the emergence of new, more evasive subvariants, posed an increased threat to both vaccinated and previously infected people.

There are two petitions seeking the reinstatement of mandatory isolation for those infected with Covid-19.

The first is an parliamentary epetition with an end date on November 23rd

Petition EN4520 – Reintroduce covid isolation mandates

The second is a petition with no end date.

Reinstate Mandatory Covid Isolation

I strongly recommend both be signed. Let us protect both our health and our economy.

Published by

Robyn Dunphy

I offer exercise guidance to those with chronic medical conditions where exercise is beneficial.

3 thoughts on “Covid Is Not Over

  1. Another great piece of work Robyn. Retirement has certainly not hampered the quality of your work. Thank you for your advocacy & clear precise dialogue. I have had COVID now 2 times inside 3months with enough time to squeeze in a 3rd before Christmas… My last infection was probably from a clinic where I was supporting my 94 yr young mum. (Who also got COVID the same time) It is very hard to stay safe while very few people know how debilitating Long COVID can be & live life without precautions. Freedom of choice has now lead to little freedom at all for all of us who choose to be as safe as possible for as long as possible. Thank you again for your inspirational poece.

    Liked by 1 person

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