TORONTO – More research is needed to understand the “long-standing COVID” condition and the burden it places on the healthcare system, a panel of Ontario scientists said in a report Tuesday.
Ontario’s COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Board, a group that provides advice to the province on the pandemic, said post-COVID-19 symptoms affect about 10% of those infected and can last from a few weeks to several months. .
“There is a lack of awareness from both the public and doctors of this disease, because it is difficult to define and quantify and because we do not have much information about it,” said Fahad Razak, lead author of the report.
A conservative estimate suggests that around 150,000 Canadians who contract the new coronavirus show symptoms long after COVID-19 infection, Fahad Razak said. In Ontario, between 57,000 and 78,000 people are affected.
Of more than 200 different symptoms, the most common are fatigue, shortness of breath, general pain or discomfort, anxiety, and depression.
Fahad Razak said that people with these symptoms find it difficult to carry out their daily activities and need more health care resources.
“The burden will not only fall on the health system, but also on other parts of society,” he added, adding that “people cannot return to work, they need support at home, which is difficult with work. and family life ”.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that about one in four people infected with the virus have symptoms of COVID prolonged for at least a month and one in 10 people have symptoms that last longer than 12 weeks.
Ontario’s COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Board said more research is needed on risk factors for long-standing COVID. Vaccination reduces the risk of developing post-COVID-19 disease, Fahad Razak said.
To date, nearly 84.5% of Ontarians over the age of 12 have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 78.2% have received two doses.
Fahad Razak said the latest report from the scientific advisory group analyzed data from previous waves of the pandemic and did not take into account variants of the virus, such as Delta and Alpha.
“We still don’t have the data to know the impact,” he said. “The concern is that these variants are clearly more infectious, so potentially we run into a problem where we will see even higher rates of the post-COVID condition.”
There is limited Canadian data on health care use patterns for long-term COVID patients, including emergency department visits and hospitalizations, the group of scientists said. A pan-Canadian study is underway to examine these trends in long-term COVID-19 patients.
This article has been produced with the financial support of Facebook and The Canadian Press News Scholarships.