Around 2 million people in the UK are estimated to be suffering from the lingering impact of long Covid, according to a study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The self-reported participants were experiencing long Covid symptoms for more than four weeks after the first suspected infection.
Of the estimated 2 million people with long Covid, 1.4 million said they had lingering symptoms for more than 12 weeks, while 826 000 said they battled symptoms for over a year.
Long Covid is a condition in which those who have been infected with the virus that causes Covid-19 experience long-term effects or lingering symptoms, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Common symptoms of long Covid include fatigue, shortness of breath and cognitive dysfunction.
According to the statistics office, long Covid symptoms adversely affected the day-to-day activities of 71% of participants, while 20% reported that their ability to go about their day-to-day activities had been “limited a lot”.
“Fatigue continues to be the most common symptom – experienced by 55% of those with self-reported long Covid – followed by 32% with shortness of breath, 23% with a cough and 23% with muscle ache,” the office said in a report.
The majority of self-reported long Covid cases were in the 35 – 69 age group, women, in teaching and education or health care, and those with another activity-limiting health condition or disability.
Speaking to The Guardian, immunologist and expert on long Covid at Imperial College London, Professor Danny Altmann, said the latest figures were alarming.
“They put to rest any vestige of hope that long Covid would somehow be just a thing of the early waves, would diminish in times of vaccination or ‘milder’ variants, or would just trail off,” he said.
Of people with self-reported long #COVID19:— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) June 1, 2022
▪️ 22% first had/suspected COVID-19 less than 12 weeks ago
▪️ 72% at least 12 weeks ago
▪️ 42% at least one year previously and 19% at least two years previously