Chief executive of the Burnet Institute, Prof. Brendan Crabb, told a parliamentary inquiry that those affected by long COVID have felt abandoned by the government. He urged future responses to take into account those dealing with long COVID, which refers to patients still experiencing symptoms or new symptoms several months after their initial COVID infection.
Crabb said that the numbers of those suffering from long COVID are large and vary widely in severity. He also said that the message of the severity of COVID is not getting through. Monday marks the start of the rollout for the fifth dose of the COVID vaccine, which will be available to all adults who have not had a booster or an infection of COVID in the past six months. Crabb said a boost in the uptake of vaccines is needed to reduce the severity of COVID, along with reducing the impact of long COVID.
The Burnet Institute’s head also called for an increase in measures to improve air quality in enclosed spaces as a way of lessening the spread of COVID. He said the messaging surrounding COVID needs to change in order to account for those with long COVID, noting that it is hard for long COVID to be taken seriously.
The epidemiology chair at Deakin University, Prof. Catherine Bennett, told the committee that there is a need for further research to better understand long COVID. She said research into the area also needs to examine groups that may be more at risk of developing long COVID. While there is still debate on how health experts will define long COVID, Prof. Bennett said broad definitions work well in the early stages but could be narrowed once more is known.