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COVID Impacts

Detailed information and resources on the long-term health consequences of COVID-19 infection and the broad social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

Cumulative Risks of Developing Long Covid

Graph courtesy of @DavidSteadson

Reinfection Increases Risk of Long Covid

A May 26, 2023 op-ed in the Boston Globe by Wes Ely, MD, MPH -- an ICU physician and the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center -- discussed the risks humanity is taking with being repeatedly infected with COVID-19, describing what he sees as playing "disability roulette" and that the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted from an emergent infection with significant morbidity and mortality to an "ongoing mass disability event".

While society yawns, impatient to move on from the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans still play disability roulette. About 1 in 10 of the 110,000 people who catch COVID this week in the United States, many for a second or third time, will be left lastingly ill. Even some vaccinated people; even some young, previously healthy people, after only mild cases.

No longer a mass death event, COVID-19 is an ongoing mass disability event. Every seven days, 25,000 more people join the 10 million in our country suffering memory loss, heart problems, dizziness, extreme fatigue, and more owing to the virus. Globally an estimated 65 million people have this new chronic health condition. One recent long COVID study showed organ damage in more than half of a group of outpatients one year on.