There Is No Such Thing As Long Covid, Australian Study Finds

The leading health official in Queensland urges the public to refrain from using the term 'long Covid' in light of recent research findings.

There Is No Such Thing As Long Covid, Australian Study Finds

Long Covid is a term that can cause unnecessary fear.

A new study by Queensland Health in Australia challenges the concept of "long Covid." Researchers found no difference in long-term effects between those who had Covid-19, those who tested negative, and even those diagnosed with the flu, according to 9News.

The study examined over 5,000 Queensland residents experiencing respiratory symptoms in late spring 2022, when the Omicron variant was dominant. Nearly half tested positive for Covid, while a portion of those testing negative were confirmed to have influenza, as per the news outlet.

According to the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID), the study suggests long Covid symptoms are indistinguishable from those of seasonal flu and other respiratory illnesses. Additionally, it found no significant increase in moderate to severe functional limitations a year after infection, regardless of the illness.

Queensland Chief Health Officer John Gerrard suggests the high prevalence of Covid-19 during the study period might explain the focus on long Covid symptoms. Essentially, the sheer number of Covid cases may have made post-viral effects more noticeable.

"In health systems with highly vaccinated populations, long-term Covid may have appeared to be a distinct and severe illness because of high volumes of Covid-19 cases during the pandemic," he told 9News Australia.

"However, we found that the rates of ongoing symptoms and functional impairment are indistinguishable from other post-viral illnesses. These findings underscore the importance of comparing post-Covid-19 outcomes with those following other respiratory infections, and of further research into post-viral syndromes."

He said the findings meant it was time to stop saying "long Covid. We believe it is time to stop using terms like 'long Covid'," he said.

"They wrongly imply there is something unique and exceptional about the longer-term symptoms associated with this virus. This terminology can cause unnecessary fear and, in some cases, hypervigilance and longer symptoms that can impede recovery," he added.