A new study estimates that between two and four million Americans have dropped out of the workforce due to the effects of the long Covid.
The Brookings Institution report found that the disease’s lasting impact was costing workers up to $170 billion in lost wages.
The report’s author, Katie Back, said the figures may sound “unbelievably high” but they are consistent with the experiences of comparable economies.
Using data collected from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, the Washington DC-based think tank estimates that 16 million working-age Americans, ages 18 to 65, suffer from prolonged covid.
According to the CDC, symptoms include extreme fatigue that worsens after mental or physical exertion, chest pain, headaches, and mental confusion.
The figures were corroborated in studies in the United Kingdom, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and by the scientific journal the lancetwhich found that 22 percent of people with prolonged covid had stopped working.
“These impacts may worsen over time if the US does not take the necessary policy action,” warned Ms Bach.
Ms Bach said more research was needed to determine the precise economic impact of Covid on the economy.
The report notes that David Cutler, an economics professor at Harvard University, put the cost of prolonged Covid to the US economy at $3.7 trillion.
Costs include increased expenses for medical bills, reduced income, and impaired quality of life.
According to the CDC, long Covid is more likely to show up in people who have had a severe case of the disease.
The CDC says long covid can first be identified four weeks after infection, and usually occurs within three months.
Researchers are not yet able to accurately diagnose or treat the disease.