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Long COVID: The invisible public health crisis fuelling labour shortages

0 2 years ago

“I woke up suddenly feeling incredibly exhausted, dizzy. My heart rate was 135 beats per minute standing, 140-150 walking,” says the 35-year-old, a data scientist from New York. “I couldn’t think straight and struggled to code on my laptop.”

Lazell-Fairman, who caught COVID during the city’s first wave in 2020, says she had to quit a contract job and stop working on a startup she founded to develop software for art collectors. Her doctor diagnosed her with a blood circulation disorder and other COVID-related conditions, which left her bedridden on some days and housebound on others.

Eighteen months later, Lazell-Fairman still cannot work or return to her favourite pastimes, swing dancing and hiking. Her application for social security disability benefits was recently rejected by authorities. She has given up her New York apartment and moved in with her mother-in-law. “COVID took away my career, financial independence and ability to look after myself,” she says.

Lazell-Fairman is one of an estimated 100-million people worldwide suffering from long COVID, a debilitating condition where COVID symptoms linger for 12 weeks or more, frequently leaving them unable to return to their previous working lives.

Sufferers report a wide array of symptoms. Breathlessness and heart palpitations are common, as are gastrointestinal problems, extreme fatigue and crippling insomnia. Some experience tinnitus, tremors, nerve pain or sensitivity to noise and light.

Others suffer lasting neurological and cognitive effects that are less visible, but equally disabling. Many suffer from depression or anxiety or “brain fog,” struggling with memory, concentration and making decisions.


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