Personal responsibility the only foil to Covid and long Covid

14 November 2022

Medical professionals are calling for more work from home mandates to combat the present surge in Covid infections in Australia. But the strain a new load of cases would impose on the health system is only one of their concerns. There is also the worry of an increase in instances of long Covid, something that becomes more likely, the more often someone is infected by Covid, says Dr Michael Bonning, NSW president of the Australian Medical Association.

“The risk of long COVID for everyone is really there and the more often you get infected, the higher your chances,” Bonning said. “[It doesn’t matter if] you’ve had it once and it was fairly mild.”

But Australian governments are reluctant to re-impose Covid mandates, saying Australians must take “personal responsibility” and “learn to live with Covid”. While this is true, I’m not sure Covid, as opposed to possibly the flu or common cold, is something we can really afford to live with, particularly if it leads to long Covid.

Long Covid, which can last for two months, some times longer, sees sufferers experience symptoms including extreme fatigue, cough, breathlessness, joint or muscle pain, chest pain, memory and concentration problems, and reduced appetite and weight loss, among other things. That’s not something to look forward to.

But then again, neither are lockdowns, or other restrictions. While they saw short term success, infection rates generally saw a decline, Covid returned once restrictions were removed. Covid has us in a bind. To live as normally as possible, free of Covid and long Covid, and restrictions, personal responsibility is one of the few options we have. But for “personal responsibility” to be effective, everyone has to do the right thing.

At its most basic, this means mask wearing where crowds are present, keeping up to date with Covid vaccinations, and isolating if infected. Covid is a slippery beast, and has had us marching to its beat for three years. The only real hope is an effective treatment is forthcoming, that will eventually eliminate the disease all together.