Parliament launches long COVID inquiry



The House Health Committee believes the long COVID and repeated infections are emerging as a “significant health challenge” for Australia.

It is estimated that one in five people diagnosed with COVID will still have symptoms after one month.

The health, social, educational and economic impacts of long and repeated COVID infections will be the focus of a new investigation by the House Health Committee.

Committee chair Dr. Mike Freelander, a pediatrician, said the investigation will aim to draw on the “experience and knowledge” of health care providers who support patients with long-term and/or dying COVIDs. repeated COVID infections, to better understand the impacts on Australia’s overall healthcare system.

“Currently we have a limited understanding of these issues,” he said.

“It is hoped that this investigation will paint a picture of the… impacts of long and repeated COVID infections on individuals, their families and the wider community, which can be used to inform public policy recommendations.

The terms of reference for the survey include a focus on the patient experience, particularly diagnosis and treatment, the experience of healthcare workers providing services to these patients, and responses to best practices – both at country than abroad.

They also include:

  • research on the potential and known effects, causes, risk factors, prevalence, management and treatment of long and/or repeated COVID infections in Australia
  • The impacts in Australia on people who develop long COVID and/or who have repeated COVID infections, their families and the wider community, including for groups who are at greater risk of severe disease due to factors such as age, existing health conditions, disability and background
  • The impact of long and/or repeated COVID infections on Australia’s overall healthcare system, particularly in relation to delayed treatment, reduced medical screening, postponed elective surgery and increased risk of various conditions.

Current estimates suggest that about one in five people diagnosed with COVID will still experience symptoms after one month, while about 5% have symptoms that persist beyond three months. In June, before the peak of the most recent wave, nearly half of Australia’s population was already estimated to have contracted the disease by some point in 2022.

Vice Chair Melissa McIntosh said the committee was also “especially eager” to hear from people or relatives of people with long-term COVID.

“The committee hopes to engage with researchers, leading bodies, members of the public, mental health organisations, the Australian government and state and territory governments,” she said.

Submissions from interested individuals and organizations can be submitted until November 18.

Further information on the survey is available from the committee website.

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