More than one million people in the UK are now living with long Covid symptoms, figures from the Office for National Statistics show.
The latest estimates show 1.1 million people are experiencing symptoms lasting more than four weeks after Covid-19 infection including fatigue, muscle pain and ‘brain fog’.
Figures show 674,000 people report that long Covid symptoms are adversely affecting their day-to-day activities with 196,000 people reporting severe limitations caused by the condition.
The data from the four-week period ending on the 6 March also found that of those reporting long Covid, 697,000 first had (or suspected they had) Covid-19 at least 12 weeks previously, and for 70,000 it had been a year since they had been infected.
Prevalence in the ONS data is greatest in 35-to-69-year-olds, women, those living in deprived areas, people working in health and social care and those with a pre-existing health condition. It is unclear whether the differences were due to the risk of infection rather than the susceptibility to long Covid, the ONS stressed.
A recent UK study showed that most people hospitalised with Covid-19 are not fully recovered five months after discharge.
Other research has shown that fatigue is the most common symptom of long Covid and may be as many as four different syndromes.
NICE guidance states that long Covid does not seem to be linked to severity of initial illness and that anyone with enduring symptoms should be fully assessed.
Ben Humberstone, ONS head of health analysis and life events, said: ‘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.
‘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.’