While the obvious importance of Tuesday’s ACIP meeting was the approval of the new booster shot (for everyone), the presentation on long COVID should be a bombshell, though given the unwillingness of most journalists to ask policy makers (politicians and public health officials) about long COVID, it likely will disappear into the ether. These are new data from CDC:
These are non-trivial rates of long COVID. Taken at face value–and I’ll get to some caveats shortly–this would mean millions of Americans would contract long COVID during the coming season.
To repeat: Taken at face value, this would mean millions of Americans would contract long COVID during the coming season.
That said, there are some caveats. We don’t know to what extent these numbers are affected by vaccination status (i.e., are unvaccinated or undervaccinated people overrepresented). There’s also no definition of long COVID provided, and so it’s hard to know to what extent these percentages represent very occasional and mild effects versus severe, chronic effects.
But unless you’re willing to assume the overwhelming majority of cases of long COVID are minor, this is a high level of disability. And despite what some nihilists might have you believe, there are things we could do to limit COVID infection, and thus long COVID, including masking, ventilation, increased vaccine uptake, as well as better sick leave policies.
Unfortunately, if our legacy media (and other media, to be frank) remain true to form, long COVID will not be mentioned, and officials will not be pressed on this. It’s a bombshell, but only if public health officials and elected officials are asked about it, and to date, the U.S. media have failed utterly in asking about long COVID in any meaningful sense*.
I wish I could feel vindicated, since I’ve been predicting non-trivial rates of long COVID since May 2020, but it’s just upsetting to watch a potential wave of disability sweep over the U.S. while our political and punditry betters pretend it’s not happening.
As always, I hope I’m wrong about this. And remember: you are not the weirdo if you are still trying to avoid (re)infection.
*We do not need more pieces asking sympathetic academics for comment, we need journalists who will challenge officials and private policy makers.