A conversation about Long Covid with Dr. Ric Arseneau, Internal Medicine specialist and BC Physician Lead of the Provincial ECHO Education Program for Long Covid, and Dr. Susan Kuo, a Richmond family physician and member of Protect Our Province BC.
Long Covid is a serious and increasingly prevalent condition. According to Statistics Canada, as of last August 2022 it affected 1.4 million in Canada, or 15% of adult infected Canadians. This condition not only impacts individuals and our health system but also the labour pool and Canada’s economy. The Canadian government recently issued a report warning of the repercussion of Long Covid. In the UK, economists are also sounding the alarm of Long Covid and its toll on the labor supply and the need for employment protection and financial support.
Despite these official warnings, Canadians experiencing Long Covid still face not only challenges finding medical advice and treatment but even stigma and disbelief that their condition is real.
“It’s not uncommon for Long Covid patients who are being gaslit to wonder whether they are crazy – they’ve never had anybody acknowledge that their symptoms are real,” says internal medicine physician and UBC clinical professor Dr. Ric Arseneau. He fears many healthcare providers are ignoring the distinction between “there is nothing wrong with you” with “we haven’t found anything yet.”
It’s estimated that 10% of people infected with Covid will develop Long Covid. With almost 80% of British Columbians having been infected with Covid, this would mean at any point in time, close to 500,000 people in BC have symptoms lasting longer than 3 months.
Dr. Susan Kuo says that “as a family doctor in BC, I can say that we’re seeing Covid and Long Covid cases all the time now, and in all age groups. To be closing BC’s Long Covid Clinics at this time makes no sense to me. Remember, not everyone has a family doctor.”