HomeHealthCOVID-19New government initiatives launched for long COVID sufferers

New government initiatives launched for long COVID sufferers

For some people, COVID has become somewhat of a distant memory. There are those who have never contracted the disease, or those who suffered only minor symptoms if they did. Equally, though, there are Australians for whom the epidemic has had a significant life impact. Those who lost loved ones to the disease, for example.

And then there are those who have experienced what’s now generally known as ‘Long COVID’. For many of these people, the past few years have been version of hell that has comprised any or all of a number of debilitating conditions. Ongoing fatigue, shortness of breath and problems with memory and concentration to name a few.

These, combined with uncertainty about treatment and scepticism from those who doubt the legitimacy of Long COVID, have taken a hefty toll. But now, there may be some relief – or at least a roadmap to relief – at hand. This is outlined in a newly released federal government document responding to the senate Inquiry into Long COVID and Repeated COVID Infections.

It’s a long read – and not exactly a page turned – but one of the headline recommendations is that antiviral medication for COVID still won’t be made available over the counter. You’ll still need a doctor’s prescription to get these.

Long COVID – the way forward

The response document, tabled last week, provides nine recommendations for consideration by the government. These are aimed at building understanding and awareness of Long COVID, and strengthening support for people living with Long COVID. It recognises, “the chronic nature of Long COVID and the need for multidisciplinary primary care-based health services and supports”.

The recommendations are broad in scope, with the planned Australian Centre for Disease Control (CDC) expected to be heavily involved. The institution of an Australian CDC was a pre-election promise of the Albanese Government. An interim Australian CDC has already been established. It is currently headed by the federal Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly.

What are the nine recommendation?

The government document, titled Sick and tired: casting a long shadow, provides significant detail for each of the recommendations. In brief, those recommendations are as follows:

  1. The Australian Government establishes and funds a single COVID-19 database, administered by the soon-to-be developed Centre for Disease Control.
  2. The World Health Organization definition of Long COVID be used clinically for now. However, it recommends ongoing definition review via the Department of Health and Aged Care, working with states and territories.
  3. Thirdly, the establishment of a nationally coordinated research program, preferably led by the Centre for Disease Control). The program would coordinate and fund COVID-19 and Long COVID research.
  4. A focus on updating and improving the Department of Health and Aged Care’s COVID-19 vaccination communication strategy.
  5. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee regularly review the benefits of antiviral treatments for COVID-19 in accordance with emerging research.
  6. Ensuring people get the support they need, most of which will occur via the primary care network.
  7. Establishing a multidisciplinary advisory body including ventilation experts, architects, aerosol scientists, industry, building code regulators and public health experts. Additionally, this group would oversee an assessment of the impact of poor indoor air quality and ventilation on the economy. It would also lead the development of national indoor air quality standards for use in Australia.
  8. Provide funding for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) research and patient support.
  9. Finally, consideration of a comprehensive summit into the COVID-19 pandemic and Australia’s past and current response, incorporating governments at all levels.

Long COVID recommendations in layman’s terms

While the nine recommendations above are quite a bit to take in, the full document goes into far greater detail.

Aside from flagging significant involvement from the forthcoming Australian CDC, perhaps the most notable points revolve around funding. In particular it recommends funding for the multidisciplinary advisory body (recommendation 7) and (ME/CFS) research and patient support (recommendation 8).

The latter of those may provide some hope for those whose lives have been severely debilitated by their Long COVID experiences.

Australians now await a decision on the implementation and timing of these recommendations.

Have you been unfortunate enough from Long COVID? How has it affected you, and how would you rate the medical support provided to you? Let us know via the comments section below.

Also read: Have you had COVID multiple times? Here’s what might be going on

Health disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigaczhttps://www.patreon.com/AndrewGigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.


  1. I got Covid, chest infection and a severe asthma attack in the last week of August 2023. In hospital for a week, I recovered and went home and for a week I felt great.
    Then I went down fast, I had no energy, breathless all the time, slept most of the time, lost taste, headaches and nausea. Now at the end of February, I still have symptoms, they are easing slowly, but I am hopeful there is an end in sight.

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