Long Covid is costing the Australian economy the equivalent of $3.6 billion a year in lost output, the Australian Financial Review reported, citing an exclusive data analysis.
Based on data from the country's Treasury estimating some 31,000 workers called in sick because of the condition in June, the analysis by think tank Impact Economics and Policy found the economic cost came in at A$100 million ($68 million) a week, according to the AFR. That amounts to some A$5.2 billion on an annual basis.
Australia has announced a parliamentary inquiry into long Covid, with the aim of developing a clear definition of the illness and gauging the scale of its impact on the country's 26 million people. While most of those infected with the virus fully recover, millions of others globally are seeing lasting effects, from issues with breathing to neurological problems.
Governments are grappling to come to terms with the condition, which reflects the pandemic's ongoing impact despite most countries seeking to move on.
Australian Labor Party lawmaker Mike Freedlander will run the country's inquiry. It will try to come up with an accurate number of people affected by long Covid and work out the best treatments for helping them recover, Freedlander told the AFR in an interview. The inquiry will also look into whether the condition should be classified as a disability so that patients can potentially access government support, he said.
A recent Harvard University study found that depression, anxiety and stress prior to getting Covid may increase the chance of developing longer-term symptoms. Lingering effects spanning chronic fatigue and "brain fog" to hair loss and shortness of breath -- are estimated to afflict some 10% to 20% of Covid survivors.
Long Covid is estimated to cost the US alone $3.7 trillion, another Harvard study showed.