Long Covid: More than a million people in the UK report suffering symptoms

1 April 2021, 10:39 | Updated: 1 April 2021, 11:13

More than a million people are suffering from the effects of long Covid, according to a new estimate.
More than a million people are suffering from the effects of long Covid, according to a new estimate. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

More than 1 million people in the UK are suffering from the effects of long Covid, according to new data.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 1.1m people have reported suffering from the condition, and over 600,000 people said it was affecting them in going about their day-to-day activities.

There is no universally agreed definition of long Covid but the ONS said it is defined as symptoms persisting for more than four weeks, including fatigue, muscle pain and difficulty concentrating.

"The Office for National Statistics estimates that over a million people in the UK were reporting symptoms associated with long Covid at the beginning of March 2021, with over two-thirds of these individuals having had (or suspecting they had) Covid-19 at least 12 weeks earlier," Ben Humberstone, Head of Health Analysis and Life Events at the ONS, said.

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"An estimated 674,000 people reported that their symptoms have negatively impacted on their ability to undertake their day-to-day activities.

"People who tested positive for COVID-19 are around eight times more likely to suffer prolonged symptoms than observed in the general population."

In total, the ONS estimates 1.1 million people in private households are suffering from the condition as of 6 March.

The effects are self-reported, rather than clinically diagnosed.

A total of 196,000 people have reported their ability to undertake day-to-day activities has been "limited a lot".

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Meanwhile, 70,000 of the people in the data think their case of Covid-19 happened at least a year previously.

Self-reported long Covid was most prevalent among people aged between 35 and 69, women, and people living in the most deprived areas, as well as people working in health and social care and people with a pre-existing condition that limited activity.

In a sample of more than 20,000 participants who had Covid-19 between 26 April 2020 and 6 March 2021, the ONS said 14% of people had symptoms that lasted at least 12 weeks.