Long COVID-19 keeps between 2 and 4 million Americans out of work, resulting in lost wages of about $170 billion per year, according to a new report.

The Brookings Institution report estimates that 16 million “working-age” Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 currently have long COVID.

“If long COVID patients do not begin to recover at higher rates, the economic burden will continue to increase,” the report said.

The estimate of lost wages “does not represent the entire economic burden of the long COVID, as it does not include impacts such as reduced productivity of people working during illness, significant health costs incurred by patients or loss of caregiver productivity,” according to the report.

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With 10.7 million unfilled jobs in the United States in June, the report’s high estimate would mean that the long COVID is potentially responsible for more than a third of the labor shortage.

COVID-19 cases in the United States average around 90,000 new infections per day – a number that is certainly underestimated due to the use of home testing. With so many infections and reinfections, the number of people suffering from long COVID shows no signs of abating, and experts say the resources to manage the tens of millions of Americans with long COVID are insufficient.

“These impacts are likely to worsen over time unless the United States takes the necessary policy action,” the report said.

The report identifies five government interventions to “mitigate both the economic costs and the financial impact on households of the long COVID:” better prevention and treatment options, expanding paid sick leave, improving on-site amenities work, broader access to disability insurance, and improved data collection on the long economic COVID. effects.

Long COVID is a “wide range of new, recurrent, or persistent health conditions that people may experience four weeks or more after they were first infected with the virus that causes COVID-19,” according to the Centers for Disease Control. and Prevention.

Estimates of the prevalence of long COVID vary, but the high numbers indicate the condition will continue to challenge public health policy and the economy.

Federal government estimates have revealed that nearly 1 in 5 adults who have had COVID-19 in the past still have at least one symptom of long COVID – fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog, chest pain and headaches among others – in mid-June. The number jumps to more than 1 in 3 when considering adults who experienced the disease at any time during the pandemic after COVID-19 infection.

A separate study recently found that approximately 1 in 8 adults who are infected with the coronavirus will develop symptoms of long-lasting COVID-19, although it did not include some symptoms – like brain fog – that have since been associated with a long COVID.