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Long Covid, The Fed, Labor (shortage) Day

David R. Kotok

The impact of Long Covid on the labor force is sinking in for many of the doubters. Here’s the latest report from Brookings: “New data shows Long Covid is keeping as many as 4 million people out of work,”

The Fed knows the problem with Long Covid. Here’s a link to a report to consider: “Long Covid, Cognitive Impairment, and the Stalled Decline in Disability Rates,”


Since the Fed cannot treat or cure Long Covid and can’t change US immigration policy to allow in more workers, the Fed has only one tool to fight the inflation being spurred by America’s shortage of labor. They can slow economic activity and that will slow job creation and raise the unemployment rate.  


But right now, the number of job openings exceeds the number of job seekers. Usually, it is the other way around. But Covid deaths and Long Covid disability and reduced immigration have turned this metric upside down. That means a job lost due to Fed tightening is a job gained elsewhere since job openings exceed the availability of labor.  


Thus, the Fed will have to stay the tightening course until the ratio of job openings to job seekers is restored to balance. This explains Chair Powell’s recent Jackson Hole speech and Cleveland Fed’s President Loretta Mester’s reference to policy interest rates at 4% for a prolonged period.  


Meanwhile, the Long Covid story keeps getting worse while politicians pretend it doesn’t exist. Many of them would rather deploy the blame game as a weapon in a culture war than actually confront a community and societal problem.  


Happy Labor Day. Celebrate and please look around. For every person dead from Covid there are 12 more people with Long Covid disability. A third of those are not working because they are sick. They’re not celebrating Labor Day.  


Below is an updated list of curated items about Long Covid. It isn’t pretty. It is true.  


Here’s the list. We’ll lead with a series of videos, followed by recent articles.


Video (19:40): “Long Covid: A Parallel Epidemic
“In this video, we hear from people struggling with Long Covid and what scientists have learned about the condition — or conditions — so far. [Yale immunologist Akiko] Iwasaki explains Long Covid’s diverse effects on the body — on the central nervous system, the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory and cardiac systems, and more — and the search for biological origins. Long Covid is likely more than one disease, but without biomarkers that indicate who will get Long Covid and the ways each case will manifest, personalizing treatments is challenging. The prevalence of Long Covid has been a wake-up call, Iwasaki says, for society to investigate other syndromes that emerge after a viral infection.”


Video (20:09): “Diagnosis, Treatment and Immunopathogenesis of Chronic Inflammation in Long Covid – Dr Bruce Patterson”
Here is the related paper:
“Neurological and psychiatric risk trajectories after SARS-CoV-2 infection: an analysis of 2-year retrospective cohort studies including 1,284,437 patients,”


Video (35:13): Camp Kotok 2022 – Long Covid Panel Talk

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Camp Kotok 2022 - Long Covid Panel Talk
On August 13, 2022, David R. Kotok kicks off the Long Covid panel talk with a data handout tracking instances of Covid deaths and Long Covid across the 50 states.


Video (57:25) – Rocky Mountain Economic Summit 2022: “Long Covid: Research, Policy, and Economic Impact”
(This video is available to GIC members only.)


Video (2:54) – “Long Covid Coalition International Conference — Collaboration to find solutions”
“International experts discussing latest research findings in Long Covid and pointing to understanding pathogenesis of symptoms. Our panel also involves scientists and doctors from across the world exploring these topics.”


Long Covid is making the news. Here are relevant articles and tweet threads.


The first article here addresses only excess deaths. Multiply Covid deaths by 12 to get the impact on the Covid victims that survived: “Two Years of Excess Deaths: What Can We Learn?”


Among the insidious impacts of Long Covid is “brain fog.” The euphemistic term really describes the temporary or permanent brain damage that people experience following a Covid infection. Here are recent articles on how Covid impacts the human brain:


“Are you among the 1 in 5 Americans with Long Covid? Here’s what you need to know about how brain-foggy—and potentially dangerous—it is”


“Perspective | How Long Covid reshapes the brain — and how we might treat it”


“Covid’s Harmful Effects on the Brain Reverberate Years Later”


“Blood abnormalities found in people with Long Covid”


Many Long Covid sufferers have yet to see the help they need. The search for effective treatments is, however, underway, and fewer Long Covid patients are met with medical indifference.


“‘Left to rot’: The lonely plight of Long Covid sufferers”


“‘Long Covid’ symptoms could mean major health problems for vets”


“‘It Just Seems Like My Patients Are Sicker’”


“Long-COVID treatments: why the world is still waiting”


“Long Covid: How researchers are zeroing in on the self-targeted immune attacks that may lurk behind it”


We are encouraged to see news of a diagnostic test for Long Covid. We long needed a way to identify cases, since many people struggling with Long Covid do not have a positive PCR test on record. See “The First Diagnostic Test for Long Covid Will Formally Launch in Europe in September”


As much as we are learning, some things remain, disappointingly, the same.
“Anti-Vaxxers Pivot to ‘Treating’ Long Covid”


For insight into the challenges that employees with Long Covid face, we suggest that readers read this thread from @LongCovidPharmD on Twitter. Consider who else should read it, too.  


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Research has established that vaccination reduces the risk of death from Covid. We can draw the inference that similar benefits apply to Long Covid. Eric Topol summarizes the most recent CDC data:
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Details can be found here:
“Rates of COVID-19 Cases and Deaths by Vaccination Status”


As far as how much vaccinations reduce the risk of Long Covid among for who get infected with Covid-19, studies report a range of results, from 15–80%. The best way to avoid Long Covid is still to avoid a Covid infection altogether.


“How Well Do Vaccines Protect Against Long Covid?”


More infections will mean more Long Covid cases and a growing cohort of people who are disabled and even unable to work.


This fall, as students have returned to class, infection rates have risen in some places. Many K–12 schools and colleges have relaxed their Covid policies in keeping with the CDC’s changing guidance. Without mitigations, we will see more Long Covid cases in young people. For some, the lives they would have led and the contributions they would have made will be altered, perhaps for a lifetime.


“COVID cases among students during the 1st week at Chicago schools are triple compared to last year”


“College openings in the United States increase mobility and COVID-19 incidence”


“Covid Cases Jump by a Third as College Students Return to Classes”


In closing, Long Covid remains a formidable challenge for those live with the condition and for a labor market missing a growing number of formerly able workers. We can help by supporting Long Covid policy responses, workplace accommodations, research, care programs, public education, and those we know whose lives have been changed by the condition. We can also help by making places safer and infection less likely wherever we can.