“Long covids have long-term human and economic implications.”

Almost 10% of people who experience covid still have symptoms after 3 months. After the Omicron wave and its millions of pollutions, everything suggests that the economic impact is sustained and substantive.

“” Many large companies have already identified the problem. Many employees suffer from the physical and psychological consequences of Covid-19 infection for weeks, if not months.They are so tired that they obviously can’t work like they used to “Warns Numerama to economist Nicholas Buzo.

As director of consulting firm Asterès, he is already empirically faced with the potential impact of long Covid in the professional world. If this is of increasing concern among business leaders and HR managers, the issue seems to remain a sort of unthinkable for the French government and health authorities.

What is covid long?

According to the High Authority for Health (HAS), persistence of covid symptoms weeks or months after the first onset is reported in more than 20% of patients 5 weeks or longer. And in more than 10% of patients after 3 months. They are often young, active patients, healthy, and free of comorbidities.

Long covids are difficult to live with and the symptoms can remain severe. // Source: AIXabay

Dr. Michaele l Rochoy, a general practitioner, explains to Numerama: In France, we talk about long covids, or “long-term symptoms following Covid-19,” and use the HAS term. This is when symptoms persist for more than 3 months after a confirmed Covid-19 infection. These symptoms must have appeared at the time of infection, not away from the infection. To date, nearly 100 symptoms have been listed.

Dr. Rochoy continues. These can be very debilitating symptoms on a daily basis: unlike the acute symptoms and possible anxiety, such as asthenia (persistent malaise at rest), shortness of breath, chest pain, and cognitive fog- Depressive syndrome. »»

Experts pending

Very often, people who have long-term empathy find themselves forced to put their lives, especially their professional lives, on hold. “” All of these symptoms are clearly many factors that cause you to take a break from work. “Tells you a general practitioner. In fact, according to a study published in February 2021, 30-50% of patients who consult a dedicated care center are at least temporarily on sick leave or part-time. Notice that you are being treated.

However, it is often difficult to fully recognize the patient. It is difficult to objectively assess a patient’s symptoms, especially fatigue. Moreover, the long-term Covid itself is not yet considered a long-term condition.

In fact, many sick people take short sick leave. Others go to work without full control over their abilities. And some people are simply forced to quit their jobs or significantly reduce their working hours because they are unable to carry out their duties.

“” Most long covid patients are in the gray area, not bad enough to work at all and not enough to work at the same pace as before “, Nicholas Buzo explains their situation in comparison to the situation of cancer patients receiving radiation therapy, or those of people suffering from chronic illness and affected by changes in their condition. To do.


Man sitting on the couch // Source: Aliexpress

Long Covid cost

If the human drama experienced by the sick cannot be set aside, one can think about the financial costs associated with long covids, apparently without blaming them.

In terms of health insurance, these costs are basically related to daily allowances for sick leave. Indeed, if it exists, patient care is relatively cheap: medical consultations, tests to rule out other medical conditions, and perhaps physiotherapy sessions. “” This is a reduction in buckets compared to the medical costs associated with testing and caring for patients in the intensive care unit. », Details Michaele l Rochoy.

Nicolas Bouzou points out two other cost items.

  • Corporate costs associated with absenteeism and reduced employee productivity.
  • The cost of people. “” Certainly, the daily allowance will never be the same as the salary “, Foster economists.” In addition, some people have to adapt their professional life to their illness, which affects their income. Finally, unemployed people affected by long covids will definitely find it hard to find a job. »»

Rethinking the flexibility of sick leave

For Nicolas Bouzou, long-term patient situations are more generally encouraged to think about sick leave flexibility to reduce patient and corporate financial loss. “” Patients may be allowed to be absent for a period of time when they are not at work and without consulting a doctor. It’s a bit like an airline pilot’s diet and works very well without abuse. »»

“” But are companies ready to adopt a trust-based sick leave system? Ask the economist. This is a question that governments and decision makers have to ask themselves when thousands of active people are at risk of persistent fatigue and cognitive impairment.