More than one in three people in England who had coronavirus experienced so-called “long Covid”, according to a survey of more than half a million people published on Thursday. Research from Imperial College London’s React-2 study suggested that two million people who became infected with coronavirus had symptoms lasting more than 12 weeks.
The study, based on self-reporting by 508,707 adults between September 2020 and February 2021, found that about one in 10 of those with symptoms said they were severe and lasted over 12 weeks.
It suggests that prevalence of long Covid increases with age, becoming 3.5 per cent more likely with each decade. Women were more likely to experience long Covid, as were people who are overweight, smokers and those who live in deprived areas.
“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. 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,” Prof Paul Elliott, director of the React-2 study said.
The study comes amid controversy in Britain over the government’s decision to change coronavirus rules to allow football officials and VIP guests to enter the country to attend the later stages of Euro 2020 at Wembley Stadium in London. Executive members of Uefa, members of the council of Fifa and senior executives of the companies sponsoring the championship will not have to self-isolate or quarantine in a hotel.
“We’re talking about a very limited number of people coming in and they’re also subject to quite significant restrictions,” media minister John Whittingdale told Sky News.
“They’re not just able to come in and travel around Britain. They come in to attend a match and go away again. We wouldn’t have been able to host the tournament at Wembley if we hadn’t allowed the players and people associated with the teams to come in to do so.”
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said discussions were still under way over the details of the arrangement and that the government would not do anything to endanger public health.
“Those who are eligible to come will be subject to a strict code of conduct and you can expect that to include daily testing, staying in designated hotels, use of designated private transport and compliance with all other Covid restrictions, including social distancing, face coverings, and test, trace and isolation,” he said.