The Department of Health and Human Services will now house a new office dedicated to Long Covid, the Biden-Harris administration stated on Wednesday. It’s an important step toward acknowledging the post-viral illness’s long-lasting, occasionally crippling repercussions, which have been noticeably absent from public health messages on the virus.
Two studies, titled National Research Action Plan onLong Covid and the Services and Supports for Longer-Term Impacts ofCovid-19 report, were released today by the White House and HHS, outlining the duties and objectives of this office as well as additional methods for addressing the condition. The newly established office will be headed by HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Rachel Levine, MD, who is responsible with putting both reports into action.
The papers consolidate the current resources, services, and help available to persons with the condition and their families in addition to providing a general summary of the government’s strategy for carrying out vital research on Long Covid. The action plan emphasizes the necessity for inclusive research and services that are beneficial from a cultural and language standpoint for racial and ethnic minority populations while also admitting that racial discrepancies in Long Covid are comparatively understudied.
Given that studies and programs need funding to run and that, according to the action plan, HHS will need to work with business partners and with Congress to fund and support action on these things, it is obviously too early to know how much the new office will be able to accomplish. There is also no set date for when the office and its programs will start operating due to the financial situation, which is unpredictable. Additionally, various complex solutions rather than a straightforward one-size-fits-all strategy are needed due to the extensive implications of Long Covid, which affect everything from a person’s physical and mental health to their work and ability to remain in housing.
The administration’s intentions, in the opinion of Kristin Urquiza, co-founder of the advocacy group Marked By COVID, are insufficient and lacking in urgency. When a tourniquet and emergency surgery are needed for people whose lives have been torn apart and who are in financial and emotional freefall due to the government handling of the pandemic and their losses, many of the resources offered in the reports seem like cold solaces and temporary bandaids, Urquiza said in a statement to Rolling Stone. These studies read like contemporary Yellow Pages without timelines, staffing, budgets, and community-supported policy recommendations.
Even though these approaches are still far from complete, many who have Long Covid may see them as a positive step. As HHS continues to speed up research and programmatic support to address the pandemic’s effects and work across sectors to guarantee that no one is left behind as we strive to create a healthy future, Levin stated in an statement from HHS that these initial findings are a crucial step.
It’s hard to say how many people are currently suffering from the post-viral sickness, but according to HHS estimates, between 7.7 and 23 million Americans have Long Covid. One million of individuals may be out of work at any given time as a result of the condition, according to the department, costing equivalent to about $50 billion in lost wages annually.
While describing the services, programs, and support available to persons with Long Covid and their carers, the services report also discusses other, more long-lasting effects of the pandemic that can have an influence on anybody, regardless of whether they have personally experienced Covid-19. Notably, the report’s first part addresses bereavement, recognizing the personal and national sadness the nation has felt throughout the pandemic that has already claimed more than one million lives. A list of resources is also provided in the study for people who are having problems with their mental health or substance use as a result of the strains of living through the pandemic.
Having a Long Covid office is essential due to the large number of people affected by the condition as well as the fact that early research and the first-hand accounts of those who contracted Long Covid after contracting the infection in early spring 2020 indicate that symptoms can last for at least two years.
Long Covid and the other issues it causes don’t go away. There is at least some evidence that the government is committed to the long term, even though it is still unclear whether the new HHS Long Covid division will translate words into deeds.