Scottish Daily Mail

Pandemic’s sting in tail

Long Covid as common as strokes At least 1 in 50 Scots are sufferers It hits women far more than men

- By Kate Foster Scottish Health Editor

ONE in 50 Scots have suffered from lasting illness after catching Covid, a study has found.

Research found at least 90,000 were affected by long Covid, with almost two-thirds of them women.

Other risk factors include being overweight, having underlying health conditions and being aged 38 to 67.

Researcher­s say long Covid’s prevalence is similar to that of stroke or chronic obstructiv­e pulmonary disease (COPD).

They also suggest their findings are an underestim­ate because they only included those who had sought medical help.

The study has sparked fresh calls for better care for those with the life-altering condition which has a variety of symptoms and range of severity.

A spokesman for support group Long Covid Scotland said: ‘We know many people have struggled to access adequate care or to get a formal diagnosis.

‘We call on the Scottish Government to fund more research and to increase public awareness about the condition and what it entails.’

There are also concerns about the lack of specialist long Covid clinics, while more than 60 operate across England.

Long Covid is diagnosed when patients fail to recover from the virus after 12 weeks.

Ongoing symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, breathless­ness, aches and pains and insomnia as well as loss of taste or smell.

Researcher­s took anonymised informatio­n from GP and hospital electronic medical records and prescripti­ons, making it the most indepth study of its kind to date.

They found 1.8 per cent of Scots have long Covid.

Luke Daines, project lead and researcher at the University of Edinburgh, said: ‘That makes it equivalent to diseases such as stroke and COPD, which are significan­t health burdens and have clear pathways for treatment. It shows quite clearly there are a large number of people needing help.’

The EAVE II project examined the medical records of 5.1million people in Scotland between March 2020 and October 2022.

It is not known why women are more likely to have long Covid, but they are also more susceptibl­e to other post-infection complicati­ons such as chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic Lyme disease.

Ash Batchelor, 36, from Edinburgh, was leading a busy life working as a medical devices rep when she fell ill with the virus in March 2020. Long Covid symptoms including fatigue, dizziness, headaches and sinus pain have left her needing to use a wheelchair. She said: ‘I’m so thankful for our family. Without our two children it would be a pretty bleak outlook. My mental health would be much worse.’

Scottish Conservati­ve health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: ‘Long Covid sufferers have been forgotten about by this Government. Whether it is Health Secretary Humza Yousaf or one of his rivals who becomes First Minister on Monday, they must urgently outline plans to finally set up these clinics in Scotland, so patients know where to turn to for specialist care.’

A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘All NHS Scotland boards are providing assessment and support for people with long Covid, delivered across the full range of NHS services – backed by our substantia­l 2022-23 £18billion investment in health.’

‘Large number needing help’

 ?? ?? Fatigue and pain: Ash Batchelor
Fatigue and pain: Ash Batchelor

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