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More people living with long Covid symptoms for at least 12 weeks, data shows

by Jess Hacker
4 June 2021

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The number of people with self-reported long Covid lasting at least 12 weeks has increased by a quarter (25%) since March, the latest figures show.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, published today (4 June), shows that as of 2 May 2021 869,000 people had reported symptoms lasting 12 weeks, up from 697,000 in March.

The number of people self-reporting long Covid symptoms after first having (or suspecting they had) Covid-19 at least one year has also increased from 70,000 to 376,000.

The ONS said this new group would have ‘been infected during the peak of the “first wave” of the pandemic’.

The overall number of people experiencing self-reported long Covid symptoms for more than four weeks has however decreased from 1.1 million to 1 million, it found.

There has also been a slight decrease in the number of people who said their long Covid symptoms adversely affected their day-to-day activities – from 674,000 to 650,000.

Long Covid risk greater by gender

The data showed that women were 1.3 times more likely to report long Covid symptoms than men, while adults aged 35-49 and 50-69 were 1.7 times more likely to report long Covid than people 70 and over.

Meanwhile, people with a health condition that does not limit their day-to-day activities were 1.6 times more likely to report symptoms than those without.

The ONS said that these findings – of elevated long Covid risk among women, middle aged adults, and people with pre-existing conditions – is also evident in studies among patients hospitalised with acute Covid-19.

It also found that the likelihood of self-reported long Covid following a confirmed infection was lowest among people from Asian and Black ethnic backgrounds.

The report said that this ‘contrasts with rates of clinically diagnosed post-Covid-19 syndrome’, which are highest among people of South Asian and Black ethnic backgrounds.

There was also a higher prevalence of self-reported symptoms among health and care workers than in other sectors, the ONS found.

However, Julie Stanborough, head of health analysis and life events at the ONS, said that this ‘was largely driven by the risk of initial infection and other socio-demographic factors such as age, sex and location’. Earlier this year, NHS England confirmed almost three-quarters (31) of its 42 integrated care systems (ICSs) in England now have at least one operational long Covid clinic.


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