An estimated 1.1 million people in private households in the UK said they experienced “long covid” in the four weeks leading up to March 6, according to new figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
Of these people, an estimated 697,000 had Covid-19 – or suspected they had Covid-19 – at least 12 weeks previously, while 70,000 had the virus for the first time or suspected they had the virus at least a year ago.
Long Covid has been estimated to adversely affect the daily activities of 674,000 people. 196,000 reported that their ability to perform everyday activities was severely impaired.
The prevalence rates of self-reported long Covid were highest among people ages 35 to 69, women, people living in the most deprived areas, people who work in health or social care, and people with a pre-existing, ONS found restrictive health status.
However, it is not possible to say whether these patterns are due to differences in risk of coronavirus infection or to susceptibility to long-term Covid infections after infection.
The ONS defines Long Covid as symptoms that persist more than four weeks after the first suspected episode of Covid-19 and are not explained by anything else.
There is no generally accepted definition of long Covid, but it does cover a wide range of symptoms such as fatigue, muscle pain, and difficulty concentrating.
Health and social workers had the highest prevalence rate of self-reported long Covid among employment groups (3.6% and 3.1%, respectively), followed by those in personal service (2.8%), in the public service or in the Local government (2.7%) and civil servants work in teaching and education (2.5%).
For people living in the most deprived areas, the rate was estimated at 2.1%, while for those in the least deprived areas it was 1.4%.
The prevalence was highest in people aged 35 to 49 years (2.5%) and 50 to 69 years (2.4%) and in women (1.9%) “statistically significantly higher” than in men (1st , 5%), added the ONS.
People who test positive for Covid-19 are about eight times more likely to experience persistent symptoms of long-term Covid than the general population, according to the ONS.
In a sample of more than 20,000 people who tested positive for Covid-19 between April 26, 2020 and March 6, 2021, 13.7% experienced symptoms for at least 12 weeks.
This was eight times higher than a control group of people who are unlikely to have had Covid-19.