A new study has found that around two million people may be suffering from long Covid in the UK.
The REACT-2 study, led by Imperial College London, found that more than a third of people who have had COVID-19 reported symptoms that lasted at least 12 weeks, with one in ten reporting severe symptoms which lasted that long.
“Our findings do paint a concerning picture of the longer-term health consequences of COVID-19, which need to be accounted for in policy and planning,” said Paul Elliott, director of the REACT programme at Imperial.
Symptoms ranged from tiredness and muscle aches to shortness of breath and chest pain, and the authors said that the study may overestimate the prevalence of long COVID as such symptoms are common and not always related to COVID-19.
The findings suggested older people were more likely to suffer long COVID, with a 3.5% increase in likelihood with each decade of life.
There was also higher prevalence of persistent symptoms among women, smokers, people who were overweight, lived in deprived areas or had been admitted to hospital, although it was lower among people of Asian ethnicity.
Helen Ward, Professor of Public Health at the School of Public Health, said: “Our research shows that many people who have had COVID-19 will have lasting symptoms and for some these may have a big impact on their quality of life. Given the number of infections in England this represents a significant public health issue that needs to be urgently addressed through appropriate support and treatment.”