December 2, 2022 • Volume 32, Issue 41
Is enough being done to tackle this growing health crisis?
By Sara Toth Stub


Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the incidence of long COVID has become a major public health concern. Currently, more than 150 million people worldwide and at least 18 million Americans suffer from the condition, whose symptoms range from fatigue and neurological illnesses to heart problems and can last weeks, months or longer. Evidence indicates that those who are unvaccinated and those who develop severe cases of COVID-19 have higher instances of long COVID, but those are not the only groups affected. Experts say the illness could cost the U.S. government $2.6 trillion in lost productivity and medical costs. However, patients continue to struggle with obtaining diagnoses, finding medical care and covering treatment costs. This has led to a robust patient advocacy movement that has helped spur both government and privately funded research efforts to understand the cause and develop treatments for long COVID.

Photo of 18-year-old in hospital with long COVID, in Denver, Colorado, on August 30, 2022. (Getty Images/The Denver Post/Hyoung Chang)
Lilly Downs struggles with long COVID, a condition with symptoms ranging from fatigue to heart problems that affects some 18 million Americans. A robust patient advocacy movement has grown around the condition that is not well understood but is expected to cost $2.6 trillion in lost productivity and medical costs. (Getty Images/The Denver Post/Hyoung Chang)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Dec. 02, 2022  Long COVID
Oct. 29, 2021  COVID-19 Vaccines
Jan. 08, 2021  Health and Society
Nov. 20, 2020  The Public Health System
Jul. 17, 2020  The Pandemic Economy
Jun. 26, 2020  Zoonotic Diseases
May 08, 2020  CTE and Athletes
Jan. 24, 2020  Conquering Rare Diseases
Sep. 13, 2019  Measles Resurgence
Nov. 30, 2018  Obesity Crisis
Jun. 15, 2018  Superbug Threat
Jun. 02, 2017  Pandemic Threat
Jul. 22, 2016  Mosquito-Borne Disease
Feb. 13, 2015  Emerging Infectious Diseases
Nov. 08, 2013  Lyme Disease
Jan. 06, 2012  Preventing Disease
Apr. 02, 2010  Breast Cancer
Sep. 12, 2008  Heart Health
Aug. 24, 2007  Fighting Superbugs
Jan. 13, 2006  Avian Flu Threat
Jun. 20, 2003  Fighting SARS
Apr. 05, 2002  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Mar. 09, 2001  Diabetes Epidemic
Mar. 02, 2001  Mad Cow Disease
Dec. 24, 1999  Asthma Epidemic
Aug. 05, 1983  Multiple Sclerosis
May 27, 1983  Chronic Pain: The Hidden Epidemic
Sep. 24, 1976  Influenza Control
Sep. 16, 1970  Virus Research
Mar. 14, 1956  Progress Against Polio
May 25, 1955  Degenerative Diseases
May 25, 1949  Chronic Disease
Mar. 01, 1924  The Foot and Mouth Disease
Biology and Life Sciences
Conservatism and Liberalism
Economic Crises
General Social Trends
Infectious Diseases
Internet and Social Media
Lobbying and Special Interests
Medical Profession and Personnel
Medical Research and Advocacy
Party Politics
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Protest Movements