According to a new survey published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), Long Covid is estimated to have impacted around 2% of the population - or 1.3 million people. 64% of people with Long Covid have reported that it affects them day to day. A further 247,000 people (20%) reported that their ability to perform tasks day to day was “limited a lot”. So if you are struggling, you are not alone.
These ONS statistics are based on 351,850 responses submitted up to 6th December 2021. Long Covid was defined in the survey as a continuation of symptoms for more than 4 weeks after infection that had no other explanation. It is important to note that respondents had self-reported Long Covid symptoms and were not clinically diagnosed.
Groups at risk
There are some people who the ONS statistics indicate are more susceptible to Long Covid:
People aged 35 – 69;
People in deprived areas;
People who work in education, social care and health care;
People with other activity-limiting disabilities or health conditions.
How Long is Long Covid?
The NHS reports that Long Covid symptoms typically last around 12 weeks, but for some people they last a lot longer. The likelihood of suffering from Long Covid, and for how long, does not appear to have any correlation with the severity of the original Covid symptoms. In the ONS survey, 21% of respondents reported having Covid-19 for less than 12 weeks previously. The majority of people (70%) first had Covid-19 or symptoms at least 12 weeks previously and of those, 40% reported first having Covid-19 at least one year ago.
Over half of the self-reported Long Covid respondents listed fatigue as a symptom. The next most common symptom was a loss of smell (37%), followed by shortness of breath (36%) and difficulty in concentrating (28%). The NHS recognises other common symptoms:
Pins and Needles
Tinnitus and Earaches
Loss of Appetite
If you have worrying symptoms for more than 4 weeks, you should contact your GP. Your GP will help to rule out any other causes and, depending on your symptoms, may conduct a blood test or chest X-ray as well as checking your blood pressure and heart rate. If required, your GP can also refer you to a specialist.
Long Covid and Vaccination
There is some positive news for the future. In a joint study by King’s College London and the ZOE mobile phone app, there is evidence that shows having at least two doses of the vaccine may half the likelihood of people who contract Covid going on to suffer from Long Covid: