This was a public webinar. You can watch a recording here:

Long Covid affects as many as 150,000 people in New Zealand. Shockingly, long Covid patients report a quality of life similar to that of patients with severe cancer or severe MS.

As the public focus on Covid-19 has waned and the public has largely returned to ‘normal’, many patients and health experts worry that the debilitating burden of long Covid is going unacknowledged. A recent study recommended that the government act urgently to reduce reinfection rates, expand vaccine eligibility and coverage, and identify a more proportionate response through a comprehensive risk assessment.

Despite this, public efforts to reduce transmission have largely stalled. Yet each new case of long Covid has a profound and potentially life-long impact on patients and their whānau, as well as on our wider health and economic system.

In this webinar our expert panel helped us explore several important questions:

  • More than four years since Covid-19 made itself known, what do we know about long Covid and how to treat it?
  • How does the condition impact New Zealanders and their quality of life? Do we know the size of the problem, and who is most affected?
  • Are patients getting the support they need?
  • What policy and public health interventions are needed to reduce the risks of more people developing long Covid, and to help support those who have it already?
  • Where do we go from here? Is the government taking this seriously?

Our panel of experts included:

Michael Baker – Professor of Public Health, University of Otago. Michael was a leading architect and advocate for the Covid-19 elimination strategy, and a member of the Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 Technical Advisory Group. He established a programme of research on the epidemiology, prevention and control of Covid-19 (Co-Search), which has generated a large amount of published research and commentary on the illness, and he continues to be a vocal advocate for public health policy approaches to reduce transmission.

Paula Lorgelly – Professor of Health Economics and Population Health at Auckland University. Paula is lead investigator in the establishment of a registry of long Covid patients that aims to paint an accurate picture of the burden of the condition.

Jenene Crossan – Patient advocate. Co-founder and investigator University of Auckland Long Covid Registry, founder Long Covid Support Aotearoa, and co-investigator of Te Herenga Waka / Victoria University Long Covid investigations Projects 1-4.

Warren Tate – Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry, Otago University. Warren has been researching the pathophysiology and treatment of ME/CFS for over a decade. Since 2021 his research has focused on both conditions – particularly the similarities between them. Warren advises patients and clinicians on request on the understanding and management of ME/CFS and long Covid, and has been a strong advocate for patient needs and policy changes.

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