The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the healthcare system, and by extension, workers’ comp. Disruptions to care, changes in claim volume, socioeconomic impacts, and mental health concerns – the list goes on. And as we continue to navigate – and hopefully one day soon move on from – this pandemic, it is important to note that many individuals are facing long-term COVID‑19 health concerns, which can continue to impact their health for the foreseeable future.
What do workers’ comp leaders think?
“There are many lasting effects of the COVID-19 virus to both individuals as well as the healthcare industry. Although the incidence of COVID-19 was on the downturn, there has been an uptick due mainly to a new variant in the unvaccinated population. The best way to prevent future medical and financial implications of the virus is to ensure that all workers for whom the vaccine is medically indicated are consulting with their healthcare providers to get vaccinated. This is one of the ways to prevent ongoing long-term effects of the virus and keep our workforce safe and healthy.”Robin Martin, RN, BSN
Ancillary Services Manager, Johns Eastern Company, Inc
Long-Term Health Complications of COVID-19
Though many individuals who are infected by COVID-19 recover completely within a few weeks, there are two groups of individuals who face longer-term health impacts from the virus.
Long-haul COVID-19 cases involve individuals who recover from a milder case of the virus but still experience COVID-19 symptoms for months after the fact, or potentially even longer.
Severe COVID-19 cases involve individuals who were so debilitated by the virus that they required hospitalization, which may have included long-term intubation or respirator assistance. In these cases, infection was so strong that the patients’ bodies were left significantly impacted, in some cases leaving them with permanent health conditions.
In both cases, it is important to note that COVID-19 is still being studied. For a virus that has only been researched for under two years, the clinical understanding of long-term effects is still limited. New research studies are still being launched, and new data and information may continue to change our understanding of just how COVID-19 impacts the body.
When an individual recovers from a milder case of COVID‑19, they may still experience COVID‑19 symptoms for weeks or months after being infected by the virus. This can happen to anyone, no matter how mild the case. Even people who had COVID-19 and were asymptomatic could experience post-COVID-19 symptoms.1
The persistence of long-haul symptoms is more prevalent in older individuals, or people with serious medical conditions, but these symptoms can still appear in young and healthy people, causing them to feel unwell for weeks to months.2 And because COVID‑19 research is still in its infancy, it is possible symptoms could last even longer.
One study of 1,700 patients discharged from a Wuhan hospital found that six months after infection, 63% of patients still suffered from fatigue and muscle weakness.3 A Swedish study found that eight months after mild infection, 11% of people had at least one moderate-to-severe symptom that had a negative impact on their work, social, or home life.4