Waiting Lists Grow for Long COVID Sufferers in Australia

Medical experts are pushing governments and authorities to clarify how to define and deal with long COVID in Australia as clinics contend with growing waiting lists for patients suffering from the condition.

“We are seeing different incidence and prevalence compared to international cohorts, but we haven’t had large population-level studies to understand this better in our context,” said infectious disease expert Dr. Irani Thevarajan of the Peter Doherty Institute.

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She said Australia’s situation was different from other countries because of its high vaccination rates, which makes it a “distinct population compared to other cohorts and other studies.”

Thevarajan said the Doherty Institute was not overwhelmed yet with patients, but it was dealing with increasing waiting lists.

“We know that we’ve got an increased demand for review for long COVID. There’s a lot of active discussion about how we can expand our resources to provide the appropriate kind of care for these referrals and for this group of patients,” she told a parliamentary inquiry in October.

Her comments were echoed by Associate Prof. Shidan Tosif, a general paediatrician at the post-COVID clinic at The Royal Children’s Hospital, who said their waiting lists were also increasing.

“What we’ve observed is that it can take some time for the recognition of post-COVID conditions, particularly with the fatigue-predominant types, to reach us,” he told the inquiry (pdf).

“I do feel that we are probably still yet to see the peak of this in terms of presentations and certainly in terms of numbers in our clinic. And that’s something we’re trying to prepare for.”

Long COVID Could Be Prevalent Across the Country

The federal Parliament’s Standing Committee on Health is examining the potential impacts of long COVID with respondents reporting high volumes of long COVID sufferers as well as a complex array of symptoms in patients.

For example, the Australian National University currently estimates around 14.2 percent of adults in the country may have long COVID (pdf).

While the Department of Health in the state of Victoria estimates that 3.3 percent of its population (total population of around 6.68 million) currently experienced or previously had long COVID, with around 0.6 percent suffering severe long COVID.

Based on the UK’s Office for National Statistics, it is estimated five percent of people who have previously contracted COVID-19 will experience long COVID—of those, 20 to 25 percent will have the severe version.

Definitions of long COVID vary, with some institutions saying patients are reporting persistent symptoms for a four-week period, while others report 12 weeks. Some definitions require patients to be severely restricted in their daily activities.

In response, the Victorian Department of Health has called for a standardised definition across Australia and the right training for medical professionals to deal with it.

Republished from: https://www.theepochtimes.com/waiting-lists-growing-for-long-covid-sufferers-in-australia_4856569.html

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