More than 1 million reporting long Covid symptoms, ONS data shows

More than 200,000 people say the condition is seriously affecting their day to day life

Shaun Lintern
Health Correspondent
Thursday 07 October 2021 11:29
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<p>Long Covid is becoming a serious health concern for hundreds of thousands of people in the UK </p>

Long Covid is becoming a serious health concern for hundreds of thousands of people in the UK

More than one million people living in the UK are experiencing persistent symptoms after an infection of Covid-19, the Office for National Statistics has found.

In its latest survey of private households up to 5 September, the ONS estimated 1.1 million people had Long Covid symptoms for more than four weeks after their infection.

Of those people with self-reported symptoms, the ONS said 405,000 had been suffering with the problem for at least a year since they were infected.

More than 830,000 people said they still had symptoms at least 12 weeks after being infected.

Of these, the ONS found 211,000 people were reporting their ability to carry out day to day activities was being “limited a lot” by their symptoms. More than 706,000 people said the problems were affecting their day to day life to some degree.

The ONS also warned that the prevalence of symptoms in the latest survey showed symptoms of Long Covid being “notably higher among young adults aged 17 to 24-years-old” and among people working in the hospitality sector.

This is likely linked to the relaxtion of lockdown rules and the slower roll out of vaccinations to young people.

The ONS data is based on people self-reporting rather than being clinically diagnosed with a specific condition but multiple research studies have shown patients with aspects of Long Covid can have serious physical damage to their organs as well as less defined symptoms such as fatigue and ‘brain fog’.

Fatigue was the most common symptom with 56 per cent of people including it in their response. This was followed by 40 per cent reporting shortness of breath and a third reporting a loss of smell. In total 31 per cent said they now had difficulty concentrating.

As a proportion of the UK population, prevalence of self-reported Long Covid was greatest in people aged betwen 35 and 69, women and people living in more deprived areas as well as those working in health or social care, and those with another activity-limiting health condition or disability.

NHS England has set up more than 90 Long Covid clinics to try and help support people with persistent symptoms after a Covid-19 infection but there is still a lack of consensus on exactly what the definition of Long Covid is and the sort of treatment patients will need.

A review by the National Instutute for Health Research has found Long Covid could be made up of several distinct syndromes that may need treating in different ways.

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