The Daily Telegraph
Can you ever shake off ‘long Covid’?
Health experts warn that the after-effects of the virus could be a bigger problem than excess deaths. Eleanor Steafel reports
Many are so fatigued they have barely been able to walk upstairs for months, others still get short of breath th from the simplest task, and for some, every bite of food that passes their lips tastes of ash. For the growing number of people with what is known as “long Covid”, living with the after-effects of Covid-19 has been harder than the virus itself.
Now, experts say it could turn out to be a bigger public health problem than the excess deaths that have occurred since the start of the pandemic.
T Tim Spector, professor of g genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and the scientist behind Britain’s symptomtracking app, says long Covid sufferers could turn o out to be the real public he health fallout of this period. Thes These so-called “long haulers”, with quietly debilitating symptoms that baffle doctors and prove difficult or even impossible to treat, have shown that the virus can act like an auto-immune disease in some, affecting multiple parts of the body long after the initial illness subsides.
Researchers, along with the health-science company ZOE, tracked data from more than four million people and found that one in 10 sufferers had symptoms of long Covid for a month, while one in 50 were found to be suffering at least three months later.
“This is affecting working-age people who have families and are providing crucial money for the economy and they’re being taken out of action,” Prof Spector sa says. “If you compare it in public health terms, that’s much greater than the unfortunate deaths in people aged over 85. “Most of those deaths w would have happened an anyway with flu, but these even events wouldn’t.” Prof Spector hopes that via his app, people will learn that there are more than 20 recognised Covid symptoms, “not just the three the Government keep telling people about”.
Data extracted from ZOE has revealed there are six distinct “types” of Covid-19, each distinguished by a cluster of distinct symptoms.
Some, such as confusion, abdominal pain and shortness of breath, are not widely known as Covid symptoms, but the company says they are “hallmarks” of the he most severe forms of the disease.
“We still know very little about the long-term consequences [of the virus],” Prof Spector says, though one similarity sufferers often share is that they tend not to have been in hos hospital with the virus. He p points out that in the early days of the pandemic, little attention was paid to the 99 per cent of cases who were infected, but not ill enough to go to h hospital. Now, their re recovery is crucial to unde understanding more about the ongoing effects of the disease. Here, we speak to five people who are yet to fully recover…
35m people worldwide have been infected with Covid 1 in 50 were found to still have symptoms after three months 12pc
of NHS Covid patients discharged from hospital develop cardiac issues