Claire Hastie, mother of three, believes Long Covid is “the greatest mass disability event in history” as she is wheelchair bound due to the illness.
Claire, 49, initially contracted Covid-19 in March 2020 but, like “millions”, has never fully recovered from the virus, according to her estimates, and now relies heavily on her teenage sons to keep the family alive.
Last year, the communications worker from Birmingham founded a Long Covid Support Group with now more than 45,000 members from 100 different countries and has also worked with the World Health Organization.
However, Claire believes that more money needs to be devoted to research into the debilitating disease and that those with the condition need more extensive consultation as well.
All of Claire’s three sons also suffer from Long Covid, but she admits that her eldest child has become the head of the family due to poor health, and she also has real concerns that her condition will affect her schoolwork.
Claire, who grew up in the village of Brancepeth, County Durham, told the Newcastle Chronicle : “I used to walk for miles every day, now I am a wheelchair user and all of my three boys also have Long Covid. Fortunately, the eldest felt good enough to keep the family going.
“I can’t handle information. My children miss more school than they go to.”
The Office of National Statistics reports that as of December 2021, “an estimated 1.2 million people in private households in the UK” had Long Covid. That is 1.9% of the population, the number being based on self-disclosure.
Clare added, “We think this is likely an underestimate. Whatever the number, it runs into the millions. Some people think it’s just out of breath. It’s not. It’s chronic pain. It can. It can.” be so much – people are driven to it. ” even suicide.
“It’s simply the largest mass disability event in history. And more and more people are getting it. The only way to prevent Long Covid is to prevent people from getting Covid. “
The ONS survey found that more than a year after contracting the virus, 439,000 people said they had long-covid symptoms – and 232,000 said their ability to perform “daily” activities was “severely limited”.
Claire, along with other activists, has pushed for specialized NHS clinics to be set up, but she believes more can be done and a different pace may be adopted.
“Patients should guide this rather than just being advised on something that may be planned anyway,” she argued. “The group I founded has almost 46,000 members in 100 countries. We learn from each other.
“Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people who work very hard and we are very grateful, but we need more research funding for that. You need to talk to patients. We need the urgency.” “
A member of the Long Covid Support Group is father of two Matthew Pocock, an academic researcher from Northumberland Park in North Tyneside. He saw Long Covid transform him from a gym runner into someone in need of a nap after picking up his kids from school.
He is also currently unemployed due to the illness.
“I got Covid for the first time in February 2020,” said Matthew. “It was bad flu at the time, about to be bad enough that I thought I should actually go to the hospital, but not so bad that I actually went to the emergency room.
“And you know how lethargic you feel after the flu – I felt that way for about a month. In the summer of 2020, I had a number of sinus and chest infections. From then on I had difficulty thinking clearly, very tired, I will sleep between eight and twelve hours a day, I am very exhausted and if I am active for one day, I can be wiped out for the next few days.
“I have a young family and luckily my wife supports me a lot. She has done more of the day-to-day housekeeping than she should ever do. I walked to school to pick up the children. I’ll make them tea and then I’ll need a nap at five because that wiped me out. “
Commenting on his professional situation, Matthew added, “I tried to keep a job but I just couldn’t get it. It made me even sicker. I think I’ve been on sick leave for four months now. The work we do is all on a contract basis. Since I was sick during the second part of the contract, I couldn’t do any other work. “
He stated that his experience with the NHS was “mixed” but that he had seen some “excellent GPs who really took the time to understand the issues”. He said the way was “combined treatment” and argued, “The other is to acknowledge that even if only a small fraction of the workforce is affected – as I know they must be – this is it” have a real impact on so many people across the country and in society.
“It won’t be like me, where there is a drop of patients, it’s much, much bigger. Large numbers of people will be affected at the same time.
“Lange Covid is pretty invisible. People only see me when I’m out – but of course only when I feel good enough. You can’t just assume that because someone is out shopping or having a coffee with friends that they are fine. “
Speaking to ChronicleLive, Dr. Mark Dornan of Teams Medical Practice and Newcastle Gateshead NHS CCG Clinical Chairman that he was concerned about seeing people develop Long Covid as we face the potential wave of Omicron variant infections.
He said: “We have seen a number of deaths, but also long-lasting side effects, especially for those with Long Covid. Many people are unable to go back to work or do the things they enjoy.
“This can be particularly challenging for a lot of younger people who really didn’t expect this to be anything more than a flu-like illness. These effects of Covid are absolutely huge a year ago they still haven’t fully recovered, it’s unfortunately a very long recovery for many people.
“With the enormous infectivity of the Omicron variant, our real fear is that many more people will be able to know their loved ones who are affected or are affected themselves.”
In the summer, NHS England announced that there would be 15 new studies on Long Covid with £ 20 million to research into finding effective treatments.
Health Minister Sajid Javid said at the time: “Long Covid can have serious and debilitating long-term consequences for thousands of people across the UK that can make daily life extremely difficult. This new research is absolutely essential to improving diagnosis and treatments, and will be life changing for those struggling with long-term symptoms of the virus.
“It will build on our existing support with over 80 Long Covid Assessment Services open across England, invested in a £ 100 million expansion of care for people with the disease and over £ 50 million in research to better understand the long-term effects of this physical condition. “
The NHS has set up nearly 100 specialized long-covid clinics across the UK.
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