On 16 November 2022, the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC) published its “COVID-19 and Occupational Impacts” paper.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IIAC has been continually reviewing and assessing the rapidly accruing scientific evidence on the occupational risks of COVID-19 and an interim position paper was published in February 2021.
In its recently published paper, the IIAC has identified what it considers to be robust evidence for the prescription of five serious pathological complications following COVID-19 which have been shown to cause persistent impairment and loss of function in some people. The complications are as follows:
- Persistent pneumonitis or lung fibrosis following acute COVID-19 pneumonitis.
- Persisting pulmonary hypertension following a pulmonary embolism.
- Ischemic stroke.
- Myocardial infarction.
- Symptoms of Post-Intensive Care Syndrome following ventilatory support treatment for COVID-19.
The paper further acknowledges that some people may report one or more of a wide range of persisting symptoms following COVID-19 (described as Post-COVID Syndrome or long COVID) which may impact on their daily activities including their work ability. However, as current understanding of the underlying pathophysiology, temporal course, and predictable effects of the key symptoms of Post-COVID Syndrome is limited, as is the ability to diagnose the condition objectively, the IIAC considers that the evidence is not, at present, sufficient to recommend prescription for this syndrome.
It is widely acknowledged that the pandemic is ongoing, and it can be expected that more and better evidence on the long-term adverse health consequences of COVID-19, and on the association with occupational exposure, will emerge. The IIAC will thus continue to monitor the scientific literature and reported data (including analyses of death and infection data for 2021 and 2022) and expects to carry out a further review in the not too distant future.