MPs call for compensation for key workers suffering from long Covid

18 February 2021, 06:23

There are calls for long Covid to be classed as an occupational disease
There are calls for long Covid to be classed as an occupational disease. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

MPs are continuing to call on Boris Johnson to compensate key workers suffering with the effects of long Covid.

65 MPs and peers have signed a letter to Boris Johnson asking for long Covid to be recognised as an occupational disease and for compensation to be offered.

Layla Moran, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus, told the government they must not abandon "the true heroes of the pandemic".

A Department of Health spokesman said employers need to "make full use" of existing support for staff.

While some people have a mild form of illness from Covid-19, others have been seriously affected with long Covid.

People affected with long-term symptoms have described how they have been previously fit and healthy and now they are confined to a wheelchair.

Breathlessness and fatigue have been reported by long-term sufferers and some have described how doing shopping or climbing stairs can leave them bed-ridden for days.

Around one in 10 people with coronavirus are estimated to continue experiencing symptoms after 12 weeks.

Some 55 different long-term effects, including breathlessness, headaches, coughs, fatigues and the cognitive impairment of a "brain fog", have been identified by a systematic review.

It comes as four major studies into the long-term effects of coronavirus will be boosted by £18.5 million of Government funding.

The cause, symptoms and effects of long Covid will be investigated during the research, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Thursday.

Mr Hancock said: "I am acutely aware of the lasting and debilitating impact long Covid can have on people of all ages, irrespective of the extent of the initial symptoms.

"In order to effectively help these individuals we need to better understand long Covid and identify therapeutics that can help recovery. This funding will kickstart four ambitious projects to do just that."

The funding will be shared among four studies.

Imperial College London will investigate what causes persistent symptoms - potentially indicating possible treatments - by looking at the common factors in the thousands of volunteers who have taken part in its React study.

Data from more than 60,000 people will help define long Covid, improve diagnoses and understand why some people develop the condition in a study from University College London.

Its child health institute at Great Ormond Street will research the condition in children.

Birmingham University will look at therapies for particular symptoms of long Covid.

England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the research "will increase our knowledge of how and why the virus causes some people to suffer long term effects following a Covid-19 infection - and will be an important tool in developing more effective treatments for patients".

Layla Moran said: "Whilst this new research funding is welcome, it completely ignores the fact that hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are estimated to have long Covid right now.

"They are being ignored and some face losing their jobs due to being unable to return to work. Research is only one part of the solution."