New data has revealed that a record two million people in the UK are estimated to be suffering from long COVID symptoms.
The prevalence of long COVID in the UK has jumped sharply since the end of the Omicron variant wave – which infected millions of people over the winter – and now, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the condition is thought to be adversely affecting the day-to-day activities of around 1.4 million people nationwide, which is around seven in 10 of those who reported having COVID-19.
Since the beginning of 2022, the ONS said that 700,000 people have developed the condition – which is more than a third of the overall total.
Of the two million people with long COVID, 1.4 million said they first had coronavirus, or suspected they had the illness, at least 12 weeks previously, while 826,000 said first had it at least a year earlier.
Another 376,000 people said they first had COVID-19 at least two years previously.
The ONS said it found that, up until 1 May 2022, a total of 398,000 people – which equates to one in five – said that their ability to undertake day-to-day activities after contracting COVID-19 has been “limited a lot”.
Fatigue continues to be the most-common long COVID symptom, which is said to be currently experienced by 55% of people.
This is followed by 32% with shortness of breath, 23% with a cough, and 23% with muscle ache.
When it comes to the types of people more susceptible, the ONS added that the rates of long COVID were the highest among women, those aged 35 to 69 years, people living in more deprived areas, those working in social care, teaching and education or health care, and those with other health conditions or disabilities.
In response to the record figure and new ONS data, Layla Moran MP – Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus – said: “For nearly two years, we have been warning the UK government about the scale and dangers of the long COVID crisis… [and] after reaching this grim milestone, the government cannot bury their heads in the sand any longer.
“They must urgently classify long COVID as an occupational illness, provide formal guidance to employers, and increase funding for research into treatments.”
The new ONS figures are based on self-reported long COVID from a representative sample of 296,868 responses from people in private households in the four weeks to 1 May 2022.
Featured Image – Engin Akyurt (via Unsplash)