The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences has provided a joint submission with the Australian Academy of Science to the House of Representative’s Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport inquiry into long COVID and repeated COVID infections.
The response focuses on the inquiry’s terms of reference related to research, innovation and evidence-based care, and was developed based on input from Fellows from both Academies and other experts.
The lack of coordinated research in this area has resulted in some significant knowledge gaps, including in relation to the nature of long COVID as well as effective symptom management and rehabilitation strategies. The current evidence indicates that the definition of long COVID is broad and may encompass several different conditions; preventing COVID-19 infection therefore remains the best way of preventing long COVID and repeated infections. Evidence on long COVID and repeated infections is still evolving, with further research in this area, within the Australian context, crucial to aid future decision-making.
The two Academies have called for a national coordinated effort to collect and utilise appropriate data relating to long COVID and repeated infections, to build a more complete picture of the prevalence and associated impacts in Australia. Australia needs to improve access to healthcare for patients experiencing long COVID, and develop better and clearer care pathways within the health system. Well-defined and consistent guidelines are needed to assist healthcare professionals to identify, diagnose and manage the different manifestations, trajectories and impacts – direct or indirect – of long COVID.
A health system in which research and innovation are embedded as core functions will be best equipped to understand and address ongoing challenges arising from the COVID pandemic, including long COVID and repeated infections – AAHMS has laid out a vision for how this can be achieved in our report, Research and innovation as core functions in transforming the health system: A vision for the future of health in Australia.