The massive growth of Long COVID in the UK, now rapidly approaching 2 million cases, has exposed the devastating scale of the public health disaster produced by the government’s profit-driven “living with COVID” strategy.

At the beginning of April, the number of people suffering Long COVID reached 1.8 million, 2.8 percent of the UK population, according to data published by the Office for National Statistics. Of these self-reported cases, 1.3 million have suffered one or more COVID symptoms for more than 12 weeks, 791,000 for more than one year, and 235,000 for more than two years.

A rendering of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

The World Health Organisation has described the condition as a “pandemic within the pandemic”. The number of cases worldwide has grown to an estimated 100 million as the wealthiest capitalist governments have allowed the virus to spread and mutate without restriction in the name of saving “the economy”—i.e., the profit interests of big business.

The most common symptoms reported are fatigue (51 percent), shortness of breath (33 percent), loss of smell (26 percent), and problems concentrating or brain fog (23 percent). Two-thirds of all cases, 1.2 million people, report being unable to perform some or all their regular daily actives. There are currently 1 million missing from the workforce compared to pre-pandemic employment in the UK, including 400,000 no longer working because of poor health, including Long COVID.

Long COVID is defined as suffering symptoms for 12 weeks or more after a COVID-19 diagnosis, in conditions where no other cause is identified. Half of all people hospitalised with COVID still exhibit at least one symptom two years after infection, according to a study published in the Lancet medical journal.

As with risk of serious illness and death from infection with COVID-19—which kills working-age people in the most deprived areas at nearly four times the rate than among people in the wealthiest areas—Long COVID is primarily a disease of the poor and socially vulnerable. The Imperial College London’s REACT study of 500,000 UK adults found a higher risk of persistent COVID symptoms among women, people who smoke or who are overweight, people who live in deprived areas, and those who have been admitted to hospital with COVID-19.

While some COVID survivors experience persistent symptoms for only a few weeks or months, there is a growing body of scientific research linking Long COVID to a plethora of life-changing and deadly chronic diseases, including brain damage, kidney disease, diabetes, chronic fatigue, nerve damage and heart disease. While these illnesses are more common in those who developed severe illness upon initial infection, Long COVID can also devastate the health of those who experienced only mild symptoms.

Source link