Long Covid has been shrouded in mystery for much of the pandemic. But new research has finally shone a light on those who suffer a whole range of symptoms weeks or even months after they stopped being infectious.
New data from the Office of National Statistics has now revealed approximately 1.3 million people in the UK have self-reported long Covid as of December 6.
These estimates are based on participants who responded to a survey, rather than everyone in the population who had been clinically diagnosed with long Covid. This is a staggering number, adding up to 2% of the population.
Trends spotted among long Covid sufferers:
They tend to be between 35 and 69 years.
They are usually female.
They might live in a more deprived area.
They work in health, social care or teaching and education.
They deal with another activity-limiting health condition or disability.
Watch: What is long COVID?
ONS reported that 64% of people who self-reported long Covid said it affected their daily activities.
And among those who told ONS they had long Covid – in the month leading up to December 6 – 21% said they had confirmed or suspected Covid less than 12 weeks before.
Around 70% said they had confirmed or suspected Covid at least 12 weeks ago, while 40% said they had it at least one year ago.
Symptoms can include:
Loss of smell and taste (parosmia)
Shortness of breath
Difficulty concentrating (brain fog)
Pins and needles
Depressing and anxiety
Chest pain or heart palpitations
Tinnitus or earaches
Feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches of loss of appetite
Watch: Long COVID patient opens up about his mental health
What it’s like to have long Covid
Support worker Quincy Dwamena, 31, told PA reporters that he was a “healthy young guy” who “went to the gym often” before getting seriously ill from Covid.
Speaking in August 2021, he said: “I ended up being hospitalised and thought I was going to die.
“My advice is to get the vaccine: don’t put yourself and others at risk, I wish I’d got mine as soon as it was offered.”
Special needs tutor from London, Megan Higgins, 25, also told PA: “It’s now been eight months since I tested positive, and I can’t even walk around the shops without getting exhausted.
“Long Covid is debilitating, so please, get vaccinated. I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what I have.”
Ella Harwood, 23, also contracted long Covid. She told reporters: “I’m young and fit but I was bed-bound for seven months with Covid.
“Before I caught the virus, I was super active and had no health concerns but I now suffer with asthma which I didn’t have before and a number of allergies.
“I fear I’ll never be the same again but I’m making progress and I’m very grateful that I’m still alive.”
However, some hopeful studies around long Covid have been published in recent months.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.