Scientists Warn Against Using the Term Long COVID As It Cause Unnecessary Anxiety

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Australian scientists from Queensland Health propose discontinuing the use of the term “long COVID” as their research suggests it shares resemblances with post-viral syndromes such as seasonal influenza. Their study indicates that a year after infection, long COVID does not demonstrate evidence of causing more severe functional impairments.

Long COVID Infections straining health systems

Recent research presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases suggests that the strain on health systems due to long COVID is primarily due to the sheer number of people infected rather than the severity of symptoms or functional impairment. This study, conducted in Queensland, Australia, contributes to the discussion on the long-term effects of COVID-19. Previous research by the same team, published in BMJ Public Health, found no significant difference in ongoing symptoms and functional impairments between COVID-19 and influenza 12 weeks post-infection.

Australia’s low incidence of long COVID is linked to its widespread vaccination coverage and exposure to the Omicron variant as COVID-19 restrictions were eased. Symptoms of long COVID, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog, , dizziness,  cough, changes in smell and taste, and irregular heartbeat, resemble those of other respiratory ailments.

Individuals with long COVID exhibit symptoms even after a year

Researchers conducted a survey involving 5,112 symptomatic individuals aged 18 and above in Queensland to explore the effects of long COVID. Among them, 2,399 adults had confirmed COVID-19 infections through PCR tests, while 2,713 adults tested negative for COVID-19 but exhibited respiratory illness symptoms or tested positive for influenza. The survey took place between May and June 2022, followed by a questionnaire delivered through SMS in 2023 to assess persistent symptoms and functional impairment in daily life activities.

The research discovered that 16 percent of participants continued to experience symptoms a year after contracting COVID-19, with only 3.6 percent facing moderate-to-severe functional impairments. After accounting for variables such as age, gender, and First Nation status, the analysis revealed no notable contrast in the likelihood of encountering moderate-to-severe functional limitations between COVID-19 positive individuals and those with other respiratory symptoms.

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