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Indiana Health Law Review



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The SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus is an external shock to all societies with lasting impacts that have changed individual, political, and corporate decisions profoundly. Increasing evidence reveals that an estimated 10-50% of those previously infected with COVID-19 face a longer-term or long-term health impact and/or chronic debilitation that in many cases comes and goes in waves. This phenomenon has already been referred to as a pandemic within the pandemic. The broad-based and long-term impact of COVID Long Haulers have also holds the potential to change our world and modern society, lasting through the following three outlined speculative trends: (1) The coronavirus crisis has widened novel and already existing inequalities, of which the rather surprising finance performance versus real economy liquidity constraint gap led to unequal emotional and sociopsychological crisis fallout propensities. Corporate governance and political economy power dynamics may shift in the eye of Long Haulers’ relation to work and a healthy, productive environment. Employers will likely face pressure to create a safe and secure working environment but also have rising tort liability risks that may be mitigated by hiring health consulting agents. Proactive care for maintaining a healthy workforce and the overall long-term well-being of employees, including preventive care in teams, will become an essential corporate feature to attract qualified labor, whose bargaining power increased in the eye of labor shortages in direct contact industries and positions.

(2) Long Haulers may initiate an artificial intelligence revolution of self-monitoring and constant health status tracking, but also democratization of healthcare information. Artificial intelligence, robotics, and big data offer essential complements to fill in for long-haul attention and productivity deficits that may occur in waves. Long Haulers have already found themselves in online self-help groups – such as Survivor Corps – for quick and unbureaucratic information exchange about an emerging group phenomenon. Social online media platforms served as an easy remedy during a time when a surge of severe COVID cases precluded COVID hospitalization. Nowadays, COVID long-haul patients have become – more than ever before – citizen scientists that bundle decentralized information on their health status and potential remedies in order to inform the medical profession about newly emerging trends. The rise in medical self-help and mutual support will have profound implications for the regulation of the medical profession and will likely stretch the medical remedy spectrum and boost alternative medicine. In the online exchange of sensitive information about one’s health status, citizen scientists are also particularly vulnerable in terms of their privacy, potentially even more susceptible to online marketing campaigns under medically impaired conditions, but also because of their sensitive information having been publicly disclosed online over time.

(3) As historical precedents show, Generation COVID Long-Haul partially being recognized as a disability may result in increased pressures to reform social, healthcare, and retirement systems. Given waves of debilitation, the analysis of macroeconomic aggregates will have to change in order to reflect a more diversified and temporal view of social preferences. Future economic policy research may take inspiration from the legal concept of disparate impact. Behavioral insights on how to navigate the world with attention deficits and uncertainty may focus on developing an idea of the economic benefits of rest by incorporating preferences for minimalism in a turbulent world longing for recovery.

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