Science

1.8 Million People in UK Struggling with Long Covid

The latest publication by the UK Office of National Statistics states that :

“An estimated 1.8 million people living in private households in the UK (2.8% of the population) were experiencing self-reported long COVID (symptoms continuing for more than four weeks after the first suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) infection that were not explained by something else) as of 2 July 2022 “

Prevalence of ongoing symptoms following coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the UK: 4 August 2022
ONS 1.8 million people were experiencing self-reported long COVID as of 2 July 2022

One in eight adults (12.7%) who are infected with SARS-CoV-2 experience long term symptoms due to COVID-19, suggests a large Dutch study published in The Lancet.

Of adults who had COVID-19, 21.4% experienced at least one new or severely increased symptom three to five months post-infection compared to before infection, compared to 8.7% of uninfected people followed in the same time period, suggesting one in eight COVID-19 patients (12.7%) in the general population experience long term symptoms due to COVID-19.

The study provides one of the first comparisons of long-term symptoms after SARS-CoV-2 infection (often called ‘long COVID’) with symptoms in an uninfected population, as well as measuring symptoms in individuals both pre- and post-COVID-19 infection. The inclusion of uninfected populations enables a more accurate prediction of long-term COVID-19 symptom prevalence as well as improved identification of the core symptoms of long COVID.

The study also looked at individual’s symptoms both before and after SARS-CoV-2 infection. This allowed identification of core symptoms of long COVID:

  • chest pain
  • difficulties breathing
  • pain when breathing
  • painful muscles
  • loss of taste and smell
  • tingling extremities
  • lump in throat
  • feeling hot and cold
  • heavy arms and/or legs
  • general tiredness.

The study led by Prof Judith Rosmalen from the University of Groningen was conducted in The Netherlands.

Prof Judith Rosmalen commented:

“Future research should include mental health symptoms (e.g. depression and anxiety symptoms), along with additional post-infectious symptoms that we could not assess in this study (such as brain fog, insomnia, and post-exertional malaise).

“We were unable to investigate what might cause any of the symptoms observed after COVID-19 in this study, but we hope future research will be able to give insights into the mechanisms involved.

“Furthermore, due to the timing of this study we were unable to assess the effect of COVID-19 vaccination and different SARS-CoV-2 variants on long COVID symptoms. We hope future studies will provide answers on the impacts of these factors.”

MPs in the UK have already been warned about the serious detrimental implications to the economy with worker absence due to long Covid: UK’s ‘Sick’ Economy Hit by Rising Prices & Ill Health of Workers

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