The costs of COVID-19
Updated 19:58, 30-Sep-2022
Einar Tangen

Editor's note: Millions of people have experienced, or are continuing to experience long COVID or post-COVID conditions. What are the symptoms of long COVID? Is the pandemic over as some countries claim? Einar Tangen, our current affairs commentator, tells more about the real costs of COVID. The commentary reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily those of CGTN.

Hi, I am Einar Tangen. And this is Reality Check.

Today we are going to take a look at where the costs of COVID-19 stand today and what we can expect tomorrow.

Most people are aware of the 600 million plus people who have had COVID-19, the 6.5 million who have died from it. The trillions of dollars spent by nations trying to prevent their economies from collapsing on treatment, on testing, on vaccinations.

But most are not aware that 6 to 8 times the number who have died have experienced, or are continuing to experience long COVID. Spending on healthcare has increased by 220 Billion dollars. Spending on Mental Health alone has increased by 8%, and that's just in the United States.

For example: 

In 2019, someone born in the United States had a life expectancy of 79 years. Today their life expectancy is 76.1 years. This does not include those who survive only to be debilitated by long COVID.

So, what is long COVID?

According to the U.S. Mayo Clinic, there are many symptoms, but the main ones are: fatigue, headaches, coughing; joint, muscle, and chest pain; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; dizziness when attempting to stand; memory, concentration, sleep problems; loss of smell, taste; depression, anxiety; organ damage and decreased life expectancy.

Imagine not having the energy to wash your hair, having a constant headache, being unable to work, being constantly depressed and knowing your chances of dying earlier have increased.

Unfortunately, vaccines which effectively decrease your chances of dying of COVID, only decrease your chances of getting long COVID slightly.

Less than three years into the pandemic, we still don't have all the answers, but the future does not look bright. As we speak, impatience and politics are threatening rational and needed scientific policies.

Keep in mind, no amount of money will bring you back from the dead. Those who say, the economic effects of COVID-19 are worse than death, obviously haven't experienced long COVID. Those that think, wishfully, that COVID (Pandemic) is over, like Joe Biden, obviously don't understand that the real damage from COVID, is yet to come.

So what are the real costs of COVID?

Socially the cost is:

the loss of loved ones; the cost and stress of having to care for those with long COVID; mental health issues; loss of faith in the governments that failed you; a loss of hope, as people see their futures like their life expectancy declining. Increased social and political divisions, as people seek to blame others for their problems.

The economic costs

Trillions in stimulus funds that fanned the current stagflation; trillions in debt; 200 billion in lost wages; 220 billion in additional health care costs in the U.S. alone; an oncoming world recession.

The political costs

The failure to spend 50 billion to vaccinate the entire world has resulted in: millions of needless deaths, trillions in stimulus funding, trillions in mounting debts, a pandemic that has divided nations and the world.

Interestingly, those who mishandled their responses to COVID, and suffered the most for it, are now the most vocal about having others make their mistakes.

While 1,500 people a day are dying from COVID-19, while more than half the world is waiting for their first vaccine shot, while new COVID variants continue to evolve, while poorly thought out stimulus packages continue to accrue interest. While personal and national debt rises, the leaders, who failed their people, talk about the pandemic being "over," or about "getting on with it."

Meanwhile the countries that put science before politics and made short term sacrifices necessary to save their people and economies, are criticized.

So, the next time you think, wouldn't it be nice to return to normal, be aware that that normal is gone, the new normal is about the social, economic, and political survival of people and countries.

Unless you believe that rolling the dice on getting long COVID is worth it. That gratifying your desires is more important than the responsibilities to your family, friends, community, nation and world. That adopting an "I don't care anymore" attitude, means you have taken control of your life. I sincerely hope you don't regret your choices.

COVID is not over, hundreds of millions worldwide will die, or be debilitated. Desire and politics are not a match for science and facts.

Be safe, not sorry. In the meantime, all the best to you and those you care about.

Script: Einar Tangen

Editors: Liu Shasha, Qi Haiming, Yang Yutong, 

Cameramen: Gao Xing, Liu Jun

Producer: Wang Ying

Chief editor: Xiao Jian

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at

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