Number of Australians experiencing long COVID symptoms grows

The number of Australians suffering long COVID symptoms is higher than previously thought, according to new research.

An Australian National University (ANU) study has found that nearly one-third of Australian adults who contracted COVID were still experiencing symptoms four weeks later – a key indicator of long COVID. This represents roughly 14 per cent of the total Australian adult population.

Additionally, the researchers found that about 5 per cent of COVID sufferers were still experiencing symptoms three months later.

The study found it was likely that about half of adult Australians had had COVID, but that its spread across the population was not equal.

Read: Almost one-fifth of Australia’s COVID vaccines binned

Professor Nicholas Biddle, lead author of the study, says women, young people and those living in middle-income households were the most likely to get COVID.

“This is a snapshot of how Australians have experienced COVID-19 since early 2020,” Prof. Biddle says.

“Those who experienced symptoms of some kind were hit with around 10 different symptoms on average – with the most common being tiredness.

“Around a quarter of Australians with symptoms experienced 13 or more, while another quarter experienced seven or less. A runny nose or sneezing, sore throat, cough and headache were also common – experienced by around three-quarters of those with symptoms.”

Read: COVID is far from over, health expert warns

The study also looked at the impact of long COVID on people’s wellbeing. Survey participants were asked to rate their ‘life satisfaction’ at the time of the survey out of 10.

Adults who had not had COVID at all reported an average life satisfaction of 6.7 out of 10.

Those who had caught COVID but not recently and did not have long COVID symptoms at any stage had the highest level of life satisfaction among all the groups (7.02).

Those who had long COVID and who reported that this had led to restrictions on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities recorded the lowest level of life satisfaction.

Read: Omicron COVID vaccine approved for use in Australia

“Our data suggests those who had symptoms for multiple months were impacted the most,” Prof. Biddle says.

“On the other hand, people who had short experiences with COVID-19 or few symptoms generally didn’t experience a decline in wellbeing compared to those who had not had COVID-19.”

The federal Department of Health and Aged Care is also conducting an inquiry into the effects of long COVID on the population.

The inquiry is accepting submissions from patients, doctors and other healthcare workers until 18 November 2022.

It’s looking for submissions on the patient experience, particularly diagnosis and treatment, the experience of healthcare workers providing services for these patients, and best practice responses – both domestically and overseas.

Have you had COVID yet? If so, did your symptoms last longer than four weeks? Let us know in the comments section below.

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyer
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.


  1. This survey does not differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated, in the last 9 months I have had the flu and Covid both were the same symptoms, in fact, the flu was worst than Covid, I have no residual effects from either, I am unvaccinated and 71yrs old with diabetes

  2. All well & good but one important fact is missing.
    How many of the sample group were vaccinated & to what degree?
    In addition, what percentage of those who experienced long covid had received the 4th vaccination booster prior to contracting the virus?

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