Governmental action continues against Long COVID

Aug. 4, 2022

According to a release by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 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 healthcare 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 healthcare, 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 healthcare coverage, community services, financial assistance, nutrition and educational questions and more.

Resources for healthcare personnel treating patients with Long COVID, as well as support for healthcare 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.

HHS release