Health

More than two million people in England may have had long Covid


M

ore than two million people in England may have had long Covid, new data suggests.

Findings from the React-2 studies show more than one third of people who had coronavirus reported symptoms lasting at least 12 weeks.

This amounts to 5.8% of the whole study population, with 2% reporting severe symptoms.

Researchers found the prevalence of long Covid increased with age and was higher among women.

The findings are based on self-reported data from 508,707 adults aged 18 and over who took part in rounds three to five of Imperial College London’s React-2 study carried out between September 2020 and February 2021.

Around a fifth of those surveyed reported having had a coronavirus symptom previously, with more than a third reporting persistent symptoms lasting at least 12 weeks.

Around a tenth of those with symptoms said they lasted at least 12 weeks and were severe.

Researchers say the findings suggest prevalence of persistent symptoms, or long Covid, increases with age, with a 3.5% increase in likelihood in each decade of life.

The study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, indicates that long Covid is higher among women, people who are overweight or obese, those who smoke, people who live in deprived areas, or those who had been admitted to hospital.

According to the research, persistent Covid-19 symptoms were lower in people of Asian ethnicity.

“Long Covid is still poorly understood but we hope through our research that we can contribute to better identification and management of this condition, which our data and others’ suggest may ultimately affect millions of people in the UK alone.”

Asked how long symptoms of long Covid might last, Prof Elliott told a press briefing: “There are studies looking at specific elements of post-Covid syndrome.

I don’t know. For some people I think they will have long-term consequences. What we don’t know is what the numbers are going to be.”



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