It is estimated that two million people in the UK live with long Covid, the data revealed, the highest figure since official investigations began.
Although Covid can cause a period of acute illness, some people continue to experience symptoms, such as shortness of breath, muscle aches and fatigue, for months or even years – a condition that has long been labeled Covid.
Studies have suggested that Covid may have a lasting effect, including damage to organs such as the heart and lungsduring research suggested less than a third of patients who have persistent Covid symptoms after being hospitalized with the disease feels fully recovered a year later.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that as of May 1 this year, 2 million people living in private households in the UK – or 3.1% of the population – have reported experiencing Covid symptoms more than four weeks after their birth. first suspected coronavirus infection.
About two in five of those with long Covid, or 826,000 people, noticed that an infection occurred at least a year ago, while one in five, or 376,000 people, said it occurred at least two years ago. In addition, 71% of those with long Covid said their symptoms had a negative impact on their daily activities, and 20% said their ability to perform such activities was “much limited”.
The latest figure is a 10% increase in the number of people with long Covid reported last month, and is almost twice as high as the figure reported up to May 2 last year when just over 1 million people self-reported having a long Covid.
“As a proportion of the UK population, the prevalence of self-reported long Covid was greatest in people aged 35 to 69, females, people living in poorer places, those working in social care, teaching and education or health care, and those with other activity-limiting health conditions or disabilities, “the ONS added.
Professor Danny Altmann, an immunologist and longtime Covid expert at Imperial College London, described the latest figures as alarming.
“They have stopped any trace of hope that a long Covid would somehow be just a matter of the early waves, decline in times of vaccination or‘ softer ’variants, or simply disappear,” he said.
“We have now created a much larger cohort of chronically ill and disabled people than we had before, for example, in the whole national burden of rheumatoid arthritis, its health costs, related loss of quality of life and the workplace. This could not be further from.” to live with Covid. “It does require a number of political discussions, both nationally and internationally.”
The figures also criticized the government of the entire party parliamentary group on coronavirus.
“For almost two years we have been warning the British government about the scale and dangers of the long Covid crisis and their failure to deal with it properly will continue to ruin lives, damage our economy and cripple public services by reducing productivity and increasing unemployment,” said Layla Moran. chair of the group.
“Having reached this sad milestone, the government can no longer bury their heads in the sand. They must urgently classify long Covid as an occupational disease, give formal guidance to employers and increase funding for research on treatments.
The figures come as additional data from the ONS, released on Wednesdayreveals that Covid infection levels across the UK have continued to decline, with around 1 in 70 people in the community in England presumably having Covid in the week ending May 27 – levels last seen before the Omicron variant took off.
However, Dr. David Strain of the University of Exeter Medical School has suggested that the number of people staying with long Covid will continue to grow.
“The increase in the number of cases of long Covid is not at all surprising given the recent UK strategy to manage Covid based on the risk of hospitalization and death alone. We have seen cases of long Covid due to the Omicron BA.2 variant being at least as high as previous variants, despite not causing the same hospitalization, “he said.