Two million people in UK suffering with long Covid, study finds

ONS research shows one in five sufferers say ability to undertake day-to-day tasks is severely limited

Britain's NHS said long Covid symptoms include extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, dizziness, concentration problems, joint pain and low moods. PA
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An estimated two million people in Britain are suffering from long Covid, with 376,000 of them ill for more than two years, the Office for National Statistics has said.

About 826,000 people have been experiencing symptoms for at least a year, an ONS study published on Tuesday found.

And 376,000 people, who first caught Covid-19 around the start of the pandemic, have reported symptoms lasting for at least two years.

Long Covid rates were highest among women, those aged 35 to 69, and people living in more deprived areas, the ONS data indicated.

People with health conditions or disabilities, as well as those working in social care, education or health care were also more likely to suffer from the long form of the disease.

The National Health Service says long Covid symptoms include extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, dizziness, concentration and memory problems, joint pain and low moods.

About 1.4 million people have had symptoms linger for at least three months after their initial infection, ONS data showed.

One in five of those who have long Covid reported that their ability to undertake day-to-day activities had been “limited a lot” by continuing symptoms.

The figures are based on self-reported long Covid from a representative sample of people in private households in the four weeks to May 1, 2022.

The ONS last month reported that an estimated 1.8 million people in the UK were likely to be experiencing symptoms of long Covid in the four weeks to April 3, the equivalent of 2.8 per cent of the population. That was up from 1.7 million people a month earlier.

In February, one in four workers in Britain who had taken time off work with illness reported long Covid as the main reason for their prolonged sick leave.

The survey found 46 per cent of companies had staff who had experienced symptoms of long Covid.

Figure released last month showed the Omicron variant, which had caused a new surge in infections in the UK, was less likely than the Delta version to result in long Covid in people who have had two doses of an approved coronavirus vaccine.

Updated: June 20, 2023, 1:56 PM