Living with long covid case study

Prevalence of long Covid of coronavirus (Covid-19) infections in the UK

Listen to this post
Voiced by Amazon Polly

An estimated 1.3 million people living in private households in the UK (2.0% of the population) reported experiencing long COVID (symptoms persisting for more than four weeks after the first suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) infection that were not explained by something else) as of 6 December 2021.

Long COVID is a term used to describe the symptoms and effects of COVID-19 that last longer than four weeks beyond the initial diagnosis. 

The estimates relate to self-reported long COVID, as experienced by 351,850 study participants who responded to a representative survey, rather than clinically diagnosed ongoing symptomatic COVID-19 or post-COVID-19 syndrome in the full population.

  • Of people with self-reported long COVID, 270,000 (21%) first had (or suspected they had) COVID-19 less than 12 weeks previously;
  • 892,000 people (70%) first had (or suspected they had) COVID-19 at least 12 weeks previously, and
  • 506,000 (40%) first had (or suspected they had) COVID-19 at least one year previously.
  • Symptoms adversely affected the day-to-day activities of 809,000 people (64% of those with self-reported long COVID), with 247,000 (20%) reporting that their ability to undertake their day-to-day activities had been “limited a lot”.
  • Fatigue continued to be the most common symptom reported as part of individuals’ experience of long COVID (51% of those with self-reported long COVID), followed by loss of smell (37%), shortness of breath (36%), and difficulty concentrating (28%).

As a proportion of the UK population, prevalence of self-reported long COVID was greatest in people aged 35 to 69 years, females, people living in more deprived areas, those working in health care, social care, or teaching and education (which saw the biggest month-on-month increase out of all employment sectors), and those with another activity-limiting health condition or disability.

If you are worried about new or ongoing symptoms four or more weeks after having COVID-19, there are resources available to help: see the NHS webpage on the long-term effects of coronavirus and the NHS Your COVID Recovery website, which can help you to understand what has happened and what you might expect as part of your recovery. The time it takes to recover from COVID-19 is different for everyone, and the length of your recovery is not necessarily related to the severity of your initial illness or whether you were in hospital.

Image: NHS Employers – free to use