An Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey suggests that bout 1.3 million people in the UK have “long Covid”, symptoms lasting more than four weeks after an initial infection,
Of those, 892,000 (70%) had caught the virus the first time at least 12 weeks ago and 506,000 (40%) at least a year ago.
352,000 people had recorded their own symptoms for a survey.
Guidance for health workers in England describes it as symptoms that continue for more than 12 weeks after an infection cannot be explained by another cause, though there is no definition agreed universally of long Covid and different studies use varying definitions.
These include extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, loss of smell and difficulty concentrating.
People most likely to have long Covid are:
- 35- to 69-year-olds
- people with underlying conditions
- those working in health, social care and education
University of Exeter senior clinical lecturer Dr David Strain said: “As we continue to see case numbers of Omicron rise, we must be wary that our reliance purely on hospitalizations and death as a measure of the risk from Covid could grossly underestimate the public-health impact of our current Covid strategy.”
ONS suggest vaccinations help protect against the illness.