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expert reaction to latest ONS data on prevalence of ongoing symptoms following COVID-19 infection in the UK: 6 January 2022

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have released the latest estimates of the prevalence people with self-reported ‘long COVID’ using data from the UK COVID-19 Infection Survey.


Dr David Strain, Senior Clinical Lecturer, University of Exeter, said:

“This rising number, based on the Delta wave, suggests several things.

“Firstly that the treatments that we have to reduce hospitalisation and death are not cancelling the need for further measures to stop the spread of COVID, as we are seeing a rising number of people who have a condition that, currently we have no proven treatment for.

“The fact that these figures have not risen commensurate with the number of cases of Delta that we saw last year supports the hypothesis that the hugely successful vaccination program reduced the risk of progressing to long COVID in addition to reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death from the acute illness, or that those left with these long terms symptoms do continue to improve and ultimately resolve, albeit beyond 12 months.  It most likely a combination of the two, which is good news in either case.

“The stark warning here, however, is that, based on this in the previous waves, over 800 thousand people have their day-to-day activities significantly affected over 3 months after catching COVID, nearly a quarter of a million report this has a dramatic impacts on their quality of life.  As we continue to see case numbers of Omicron rise, we must be wary that our reliance purely on hospitalisations and death as a measure of the risk from COVID could grossly underestimate the public health impact of our current COVID strategy.”



All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:



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