Record 2 mln people in UK have long Covid: survey

LONDON, United Kingdom -- An estimated 2 million people in Britain have lingering Covid-19 symptoms more than four weeks after their initial coronavirus infection, a latest survey showed.

Based on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey of people living in private households in Britain, an estimated 3.1 percent of the population were experiencing long Covid symptoms as of May 1.

This is 200,000 more people than the ONS's previous estimated prevalence of 1.8 million, as of April 3.

Of the estimated 2 million people with self-reported long Covid, 442,000 (22 percent) first had (or suspected they had) Covid-19 less than 12 weeks previously, 1.4 million people (72 percent) at least 12 weeks prior to their ongoing symptoms, 826,000 (42 percent) at least one year previously and 376,000 (19 percent) at least two years previously.

"We have seen cases of long Covid due to the omicron BA.2 variant be at least as high as previous variants, despite not causing the same hospitalization rate," said David Strain, Clinical Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant of the University of Exeter Medical School.

Strain said that the most concerning figure in the survey however is the 376,000 people who have had the disease for over two years, noting this is only looking at the first four months of Covid infections in Britain.

"This number will inevitably climb as all of those who caught Covid in the second, third and fourth waves experience continued symptoms," Strain said.