Health experts are calling on governments and authorities to clarify how Australia will define and deal with the long-term COVID. Clinics are battling a growing waiting list of patients suffering from this condition.
“Different incidence and prevalence compared to international cohorts, but large population-level studies have not been conducted to better understand this in our context,” says the Peter Doherty study. Dr. Irani Tebarajan, an infectious disease specialist at the hospital, said.
She said the situation in Australia is different from other countries because of its high vaccination rates and “a different population compared to other cohorts and other studies”.
Thevarajan said the Doherty Institute is not yet overwhelmed with patients, but is coping with the growing waiting list.
“We know the demand for long-term COVID reviews is growing. There has been a lot of active discussion about how to scale up resources to provide the right kind of care for these referrals and this group of patients. I have.
Her comments were also echoed by Associate Professor Sidan Tosif, general pediatrician at the Post-COVID Clinic at the Royal Children’s Hospital, who said the waiting list was also growing.
“What we have observed is that it may take time to recognize post-COVID conditions, especially those with a predominance of fatigue,” he told the study (pdf).
“I feel that we have probably not yet seen a peak in terms of presentations, and certainly in terms of the number of our clinics.
Long COVID could spread across the country
Congress’ Permanent Health Committee is investigating the potential long-term effects of COVID, with respondents reporting a high volume of long-term COVID patients and a complex spectrum of symptoms in patients.
For example, the Australian National University currently estimates that about 14.2% of adults in the country may have long-term COVID-19 (pdf).
Meanwhile, the Victorian Ministry of Health Estimate 3.3% of its population (approximately 6.68 million total population) are currently experiencing or previously had prolonged COVID, and approximately 0.6% are suffering from severe, prolonged COVID.
Based on the UK Office for National Statistics, it is estimated that 5% of people previously infected with COVID-19 will experience prolonged COVID-19, of which 20-25% will develop a severe form.
Definitions of long-term COVID vary, with some facilities reporting symptoms that persist for 4 weeks and others for 12 weeks. Some definitions require severe restrictions on the patient’s daily activities.
In response, the Victorian Department of Health called for a standardized definition across Australia and adequate training for health professionals to deal with it.