The Pandemic Is Over, Except for the 2-4 Million People Who Can’t Work Due to Long COVID

Which is to say, it’s not over at all:

This report uses the new data to assess the labor market impact and economic burden of long Covid, and finds that:

    Around 16 million working-age Americans (those aged 18 to 65) have long Covid today.
    Of those, 2 to 4 million are out of work due to long Covid.
    The annual cost of those lost wages alone is around $170 billion a year (and potentially as high as $230 billion).

These impacts stand to worsen over time if the U.S. does not take the necessary policy actions…

Critically, this number does not represent the full economic burden of long Covid, because it does not include impacts such as the lower productivity of people working while ill, the significant health care costs patients incur, or the lost productivity of caretakers. Cutler estimated that medical care and lost quality of life related to long Covid cost an additional $544 billion each year….

Together, these three factors suggest that if long Covid patients don’t begin recovering at greater rates, the economic burden will continue to rise. To give a sense of the magnitude: If the long Covid population increases by just 10% each year, in 10 years, the annual cost of lost wages will be half a trillion dollars.

Despite all of the caterwauling about ‘quiet quitting’ (Lordy, what a bullshit phrase), ‘COVID quitting‘ is a problem if you’re an employer who wants a tight labor market (boldface mine):

The report estimates that 2 million to 4 million of those people are currently out of work due to long Covid. That’s almost as high as the number of Americans who quit their jobs each month amid the Great Resignation: About 4.2 million quit their jobs in June and nearly 4.3 million quit in May and April, respectively, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In other words, the jobs lost to long Covid could make up about a third of the country’s current labor shortage.

Since nobody seems to give a shit about the human costs of long COVID, maybe our political betters will start worrying about the economic costs.

And the best way to avoid long COVID is to not get COVID at all. As I’ve been saying for a long time now, based on my read of various studies, among the vaccinated, 1-2% of infections will lead to debilitating long COVID. We have to slow the spread down and make it safer–and it is possible to do these things, though, politically, it’s pretty clear, even under Biden, we won’t.

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