‘Record-high’ 892,000 people living with long Covid for a year, figures show

Some 384,000 people with long Covid report that their ability to undertake day-to-day activities has been ‘limited a lot’

Samuel Lovett
Senior News Correspondent
Thursday 01 September 2022 14:21 BST
Two million people in the UK have long Covid
Two million people in the UK have long Covid (PA)

Close to one million people in the UK have been living with long Covid for at least a year, estimates show.

As of 31 July, 892,000 people had been suffering from the condition for 12 months or more, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) — up from 761,000 at the beginning of the month, a 17 per cent rise.

This is the highest reported figure of the pandemic; however, the ONS said it could not be directly compared to previous estimates due to a change in which its data is collected.

In total, two million people in the UK have long Covid; of these, 429,000 are estimated to have first developed their symptoms at least two years ago.

The ONS figures show that long Covid adversely affects the day-to-day activities of 1.5 million people, with 384,000 reporting that their ability to undertake day-to-day activities has been “limited a lot”.

Fatigue continues to be the most common symptom reported by individuals experiencing long Covid (62 per cent), followed by shortness of breath (37 per cent), difficulty concentrating (33 per cent), and muscle ache (31 per cent).

The prevalence of long Covid is greatest in people aged 35 to 69 years, females, people living in more deprived areas, those working in social care, and those with another activity-limiting health condition or disability.

The ONS analysis was based on 222,000 responses to its Coronavirus Infection Survey collected over the four-week period ending 31 July 2022.

As part of a new approach adopted by the ONS, the latest survey results are based on both study worker and remote data collection.

Participants can now complete the survey online or by telephone, and swab and blood sample kits are sent through and returned by post. From this month onwards, the published estimates for long Covid are not fully comparable with those in previous releases.

Despite the threat posed by long Covid, with research underway to better understand how it develops and who is vulnerable, efforts to treat patients are stalling.

The NHS has established a network of long Covid clinics but the latest data shows that, between 6 June and 3 July, only 4,440 patients in England received “specialist assessments” at these centres.

A study published last month in The Lancet estimated that long Covid develops in one in eight people who contract coronavirus.

The authors outlined a list of core symptoms associated with the condition, including difficulty breathing, chest pain, heavy arms and legs, loss of sense of smell, feeling hot and cold, tingling in extremities, muscle ache and tiredness.

Other research has shown that long Covid appears to be less common among people who are vaccinated.

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