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International Long Covid Awareness

Contact: Angela Laffin



February 25, 2024

For Immediate Release

2024 Marks 2nd International Long Covid Awareness Day & Month 

The 2nd annual International Long Covid Awareness Day will be observed on Friday, March 15th, 2024. This year's campaign, themed “Confront Long Covid,” urges the world to do exactly that — confront Long Covid.

Angela Laffin, Founder of International Long Covid Awareness (ILCA), declares,“On March 15th we will unite together as a global community with the support of Long Covid organizations, researchers, doctors, and allies from all around the globe to call on the world to confront Long Covid. The reality today is there are millions of people still sick from SARS-CoV-2. The virus is still spreading, people are still developing Long Covid, all while COVID-19 continues to kill large numbers of people.”                                    

Long Covid is a multi-systemic disease, damaging organs, neurological, GI, and vascular systems alongside AIDS-like immune dysregulation with research pointing to SARS-CoV-2 viral persistence as the leading cause. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 5,000 Americans have died from Long Covid, while COVID-19 killed over 1.1 million people in the United States, and over 7 million people globally. In 2023 it was estimated that at least 65 million people worldwide continue to suffer from Long Covid. That number is higher now, with data from the United States Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey indicating that about 1 in 4 people — approximately 27,831,176 Americans — who have had COVID-19 are subjected to Long Covid.             

Despite these horrific reports, there are no effective antiviral treatments for Long Covid to stop SARS-CoV-2 viral persistence. “After 4 years of meetings and hearings and a billion dollars spent, there are zero FDA-approved effective therapeutics,” says LCAP founder Joshua Pribanic, a Long Covid activist living with the disease. “SARS-CoV-2 viral persistence in people, in children, is unacceptable and a national security threat,” Pribanic explains. “This is an emergency. On #LongCovidAwarenessDay we ask everyone to sign LCAP’s Long Covid letter of 11 demands and tell the president and Congress we need antivirals now.”

Through the Confront Long Covid campaign, ILCA calls on global governments, the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations, healthcare, schools, businesses, and individuals to acknowledge Long Covid as an international emergency and a threat to global security. This is not only an issue for those living with Long Covid; this is a global economic crisis as more people contract COVID or experience reinfections. Harvard Health Economist David Cutler estimates that the cumulative cost to GDP as of July 2022 was $3.719 trillion, with $544 billion in additional costs incurred annually. Using his calculations, total costs due to Long Covid could reach $8.343 trillion by 2030. Cutler has stated that Long Covid requires an annual investment of at least $28 billion in the U.S., yet only $128.75 million per year over the next four years has been committed for treatment developments.

Governments can take up the charge by utilizing effective mitigation tools already available like mandating N95 masks and universal respirator in healthcare. Providing reliable government data, such as mandating wastewater tracking, as recommended in LCAP's Long Covid letter of 11 demands to the public, also will better help people make decisions regarding  proper precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones. Furthermore, governments can implement clean indoor air initiatives such as the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge (United States), as well as fund research and clinical trials for Long Covid treatments, especially novel antivirals targeting SARS-CoV-2. Assisting those in need of social assistance is crucial, as trends indicate a rise in evictions and homelessness as individual costs increase. Global leaders should promote medical programs that assist doctors to provide appropriate guidance and care to patients, especially in Long Covid clinics where some doctors lack knowledge on which tests to run or how to best help patients. We urge the CDC to maintain the 5-day COVID-19 isolation guidelines and reject attempts to decrease the isolation period. In fact, the science is clear the original 2-week isolation period would be far better at reducing the spread of the virus and its dangerous health outcomes. 

We call on the United Nations, supported by more than 175,000 letters, to officially recognize International Long Covid Awareness Day and Month. We ask that the United States grant congressional resolution to recognize both March 15th, and the month of March for Long Covid awareness. Those able to raise awareness in the Long Covid community are doing what they can to spread the message, but these individuals are possibly doing themselves further harm. This is why we need support from our highest institutions.     

Our schools can help students, teachers, and staff by implementing education and attendance plans for students with Long Covid, if they haven't already done so. Any policy that allows sick students to stay in school should be reconsidered. Besides masking, one of the best tools is finding ways to generate clean air for students and teachers alike. A practical  way to do this could be to teach students how to build Corsi-Rosenthal boxes until funding for further measures becomes available. 

Our message to the public is “First, protect yourself!” If you are able to mask up, wear a high-quality mask such as the N95. Taking this simple step protects you, those suffering from Long Covid and other illnesses, as well as all others. Next, we urge individuals to continue to test regularly, if you’re sick, stay home. Regarding reinfections, whether it's your first, second, third, or tenth infection, if you get COVID there's a higher risk of death and compounding risk of developing Long Covid. Confronting Long Covid requires educating yourself about the disease and by being there to support those suffering from it.

Finally, there’s more work to be done to help remove the stigma and misinformation surrounding Long Covid. Doing so will ensure the disease is defined by biomedical science.These are all ways we can all confront the challenges posed by Long Covid. 

“We have a responsibility and an opportunity to improve the health of adults and children with Long Covid and to protect everyone from Long Covid by reducing SARS-CoV-2 infections and reinfections,” said Dr. Jeremy Rossman, Chair of the board, for Long Covid Kids. “Collective community action is vital to achieving this goal.” 

Events are currently being planned, both virtually and publicly. Everyone affected by Long Covid are encouraged to get involved in International Long Covid Awareness Day and Month in any way they can. This year the Long Covid community will be sharing photos to social media to make a statement about the urgent need to Confront Long Covid. Be sure to use these two hashtags for the photos: #ConfrontLongCovid #LongCovidAwarenessDay. For other posts throughout the month of March, please use the hashtags: #LongCovidAwarenessMonth #LongCovid, #LongCovidKids, and #LongCovidAwareness. ILCA will be holding a Twitter Space at 3:00 pm PST on March 15th, with a moment of silence at 3:15 pm PST to honor those who have lost their lives to Long Covid. In Canada, buildings and structures will be set to shine teal lights to mark International Long Covid Awareness Day. Three Confirmed Canadian landmarks include Science World, CN Tower, and Sails of Light. We have hopes to see more structures lit up in support of International Long Covid Awareness Day! A grassroots group, LC/DC, will be holding a demonstration in Washington D.C. This event will feature speakers including patients and allies advocating awareness, change, action, and transparency from the government and healthcare officials handling Long Covid. This event will be streamed on various platforms. Follow the group @LCDCmarch15 for updates Another group, located in Spain, Asociación LC Euskal Herria Elkartea, holds demonstrations on the 15th of every month outside hospitals to raise awareness for those affected by Long Covid. To find out more about the venue for International Long Covid Awareness Day, follow the group @covideuskal. The ILCA website offers awareness merchandise mostly made or designed by people with Long Covid, (ILCA does not benefit from any purchases). Many items feature the tricolor awareness ribbon designed by a first wave Long Covid patient Tracey Thompson, or the awareness colors teal, gray, and black as selected by the Long Covid community in 2023.

Laffin, who herself has lived with Long Covid for four years, explains, “We must do this for ourselves, for each other, for those that cannot participate because they are too ill, and for all of those who have already lost their lives to Long Covid.”

To stay informed about International Long Covid Awareness Day and Month events and to learn how you can participate, follow Long Covid support groups and organizations on social media. Our goal is to inspire people to confront Long Covid, so please join us in advocating for awareness and support for Long Covid throughout the year!

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