Over Two Million People in England Had Long Covid

More than two million people had symptoms lasting longer than three months. Image: Wikimedia

Over two million people in England are thought to have had one or more Covid-19 symptoms lasting at least 12 weeks according to one of the largest studies of the virus funded by the government.

The study is based on self-reported data from 508,707 adults aged 18 and above who took part in REACT-2 rounds three to five carried out between September 2020 and February 2021.

Around a fifth of those surveyed reported having had a Covid-19 symptom previously, with over a third reporting persistent symptoms lasting at least 12 weeks. Around a tenth of those with symptoms said they lasted at least 12 weeks and were severe.

The findings suggest prevalence of persistent symptoms, or long Covid, increases with age, with a 3.5 per cent increase in likelihood in each decade of life. It shows long Covid is higher among women, people who are overweight or obese, who smoke, live in deprived areas, or had been admitted to hospital. Persistent Covid-19 symptoms were lower in people of Asian ethnicity.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock said, “Long Covid can have a lasting and debilitating impact on the lives of those affected. Studies like this help us to rapidly build our understanding of the impact of the condition and we are using these findings and other new research to develop support and treatments.

“We are learning more about long Covid all the time and have made £50 million of research funding available to support innovative projects, with clinics established across the country to help improve the treatment available,” he added.

Professor Paul Elliott, director of the REACT programme at Imperial, said, “Our findings do paint a concerning picture of the longer-term health consequences of Covid-19, which need to be accounted for in policy and planning. Long COVID is still poorly understood but we hope through our research that we can contribute to better identification and management of this condition, which our data and others suggest may ultimately affect millions of people in the UK alone.

“People with persistent symptoms at 12 weeks fell into two broad groups. In the first the most common symptom was tiredness and muscle aches. In the second, the most common symptoms were shortness of breath affecting normal activities, tightness in chest, and chest pain, with more people reporting that they had severe symptoms,” he added.


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Written by

Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.

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