The US Government is committed to helping people across America affected by Long COVID. In April, President Joe Biden issued a Memorandum on Addressing the Long-Term Effects of COVID-19, which called for the creation of two reports. Within 120 days, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), leading a whole-of-government response, developed two reports that together, pave an actionable path forward to address Long COVID and associated conditions.
The National Research Action Plan on Long COVID details advances in current research and charts a course for future study to better understand prevention and treatment of Long COVID. The Services and Supports for Longer-Term Impacts of COVID-19 report highlights resources for health care workers, and those effected by broader effects of COVID-19, including not only Long COVID but also effects on mental health and substance use, and loss of caregivers and loved ones.
“Long COVID can hinder an individual’s ability to work, attend school, participate in community life, and engage in everyday activities,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “As our nation continues to make strides in the fight against COVID-19, these reports are critical to shine a light on Long COVID’s impact and how to match people to resources.”
“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to combating and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with the full capacity of the federal government,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Health ADM Rachel Levine. “These initial reports are an important step as HHS continues to accelerate research and programmatic support to address the consequences of the pandemic and work across sectors to ensure no one is left behind as we continue to build a healthier future.”
People with Long COVID have disease symptoms that persist for weeks or months after acute COVID-19 infection. It remains difficult to measure precisely, but an estimated 7.7 to 23 million Americans have developed Long COVID, and roughly one million people may be out of the workforce at any given time due to the condition—equivalent to about $50 billion in lost earnings annually.
The National Research Action Plan on Long COVID (the Research Plan), created in coordination with 14 government departments and agencies, introduces the first U.S. government–wide national research agenda focused on advancing prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and provision of services and supports for individuals and families experiencing Long COVID.
The Research Plan stresses four guiding principles to govern federal government data analysis work: health equity, accelerating and expanding current research, orienting the research effort to improve patient care, and partner engagement. The plan demonstrates innovation in early achievements and highlights the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors to advance prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and provision of health care, public health, and human services for individuals experiencing Long COVID.
The Services and Supports for Longer-Term Impacts of COVID-19 Report (Services Report) outlines federal services available to the American public to address longer-term effects of COVID-19, including Long COVID and related conditions, as well as other impacts on individuals and families. It provides valuable information in three key areas:
- Federal supports and services available for people experiencing Long COVID – from how to navigate your rights to how to navigate health care coverage, community services, financial assistance, nutrition and educational questions and more.
- Resources for health care personnel treating patients with Long COVID, as well as support for health care personnel experiencing stress and trauma related to COVID-19.
- Services for individuals confronting challenges related to mental health, substance use, and bereavement.
Federal departments will continue to engage with partners, including state and local governments, on the scope and accessibility of these services to meet the needs of individuals. Engagement of nongovernmental experts, organizations, and stakeholders, including individuals affected directly by the longer-term effects of COVID-19, has played an essential role in shaping the government’s response to COVID-19 and Long COVID, including the development of these reports.
As we learn more about Long COVID, the best protection remains to prevent COVID-19 in the first place by following basic public health interventions, including getting vaccinated, boosted, and wearing a mask indoors in public where the COVID-19 community level is high.
UK NHS sets out long COVID action plan for thousands of people with persistent symptom
Patients with long-lasting symptoms from COVID will have access to more convenient tests and checks closer to home, under new NHS measures announced today.
Specialist clinics, dedicated to long COVID, will now be able to send people for tests at local one stop shops and mobile clinics, rather than people going back to their GP practice for multiple different tests.
Backed by an additional £90 million investment, the updated long COVID plan includes ambitions for all patients to have an initial assessment within six weeks to ensure they are diagnosed and treated quickly.
Latest estimates from the ONS show that around 1.6 million people in England are experiencing ongoing COVID symptoms lasting more than four weeks, with around one in five saying it has a significant impact on their daily life.
The plan, which has been developed with expert insights from patients, clinicians and partners across the health and care system, shows the NHS has already made significant progress on delivering the 10 commitments it set out for long COVID services just over one year ago.
This includes establishing a nationwide network of 90 specialist long COVID clinics, 14 hubs for children and young people and investment in training and guidance to support GP teams in managing the condition.
A community outreach van in Mid and South Essex is already seeing patients with suspected long COVID symptoms for booked appointments and walk-ins before referring them for further assessments where needed.
The mobile service offers a range of checks including blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, spirometry and other tests for breathlessness as well as electrocardiography.
Dr Kiren Collison, GP and chair of the NHS long COVID taskforce said: “Long COVID can be devastating for those living with it, and while we continue to learn more about this new condition, it’s important people know they’re not alone, and that the NHS is here for them.
“In just under two years, the NHS has invested £224m to support people experiencing long term effects from COVID – from setting up specialist clinics, hubs for children, and an online recovery platform, to providing training for GP teams.
“Today’s plan builds on this world-leading care, to ensure support is there for everyone who needs it, and that patients requiring specialist support can access care in a timely and more convenient way.”
Many of those experiencing long term symptoms, will make a full recovery with support from their community healthcare or GP team, but for those suffering from the more complex and severe symptoms, the NHS has set up specialist long COVID clinics across the country.
Long COVID clinics offer a comprehensive multidisciplinary service including physical, cognitive and psychological assessments and management and can also refer patients for further rehabilitation, treatment and other support.
Lizzie Burr, 62 from Warwick, was referred to her local specialist long COVID clinic, she said: “I caught COVID in early 2020 and initially managed my symptoms at home expecting they would pass, however over a month later I was still really poorly, and my condition didn’t seem to be improving.
“I was struggling with fatigue and breathlessness, which has severely limited my mobility, as well as nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping.
“I was referred to the long COVID clinic in Stratford by my GP, and following an initial assessment, I received specialist support from a respiratory physio to improve my breathing, as well as a dietician who has helped me with food and exercise.
“Whilst I’m still in the process of recovery, I can’t speak highly enough of the long COVID clinic, for me it’s been a lifeline and has helped me both physically and mentally. I would encourage anyone who is worried about long COVID to seek help and speak to their GP team”.
Health Minister James Morris said: “Long COVID can have lasting and debilitating effects on both the physical and mental health of people of all ages.
“These new measures will ensure individuals with this awful condition can access the support that they need more quickly and closer to home.
“The plan shows the incredible progress the NHS has made to provide further support to patients alongside our world-leading vaccination programme which has delivered over 150 million jabs to protect people from the virus.”
In the last year, over 45,000 people experiencing severe or complex symptoms have been seen by a specialist post-COVID service.
Anyone who is concerned about ongoing symptoms following COVID-19 can find information and advice on the NHS Your COVID Recovery website.
This online platform provides expert advice on what people can do if they are recovering from the infection, as well as what to look out for if symptoms persist and signposting on where to access support for long lasting symptoms.
Since launching, the online service has been accessed by over 10 million people worldwide and is now available in 17 languages including Arabic, Chinese, Gujarati, Hindi, Polish, Ukrainian and Urdu.
If they remain concerned, or are not recovering as expected, they should contact their GP team.