Scientists and medical experts have accused the British government of ignoring what they say could be the most damaging consequence of removing almost all pandemic restrictions from July 19 — increasing the number of people affected by debilitating “long Covid” that can last for months or years.
“Many of us have been urging the new health secretary Sajid Javid to consider long Covid when evaluating the easing of lockdown,” said David Strain, a senior clinical lecturer and Covid researcher at Exeter University.
“But he does not seem to have taken it into account at all, even though long Covid is probably going to have more impact on the economy than any other aspect of the pandemic,” he added.
Estimates of the proportion of people with Covid after-effects differ, but most experts put the figure at 10 to 20 percent of those who remain out of the hospital and about 90 percent in hospitalized patients.
Common symptoms include fatigue, breathing problems, insomnia and “brain fog”, leaving many sufferers unable to work.
“I am baffled that Javid could throw out figures like 100,000 new cases a day without mentioning the number who might develop long Covid,” said Nathalie MacDermott, a clinical lecturer at King’s College London. “That could leave an enormous legacy of more than 10,000 cases a day of long Covid.”
Although vaccination has weakened the links between Sars-Cov-2 infection, hospitalization and death, scientists do not know the extent to which it has reduced the risk of suffering long-lasting symptoms.
Long Covid was highlighted in a letter published by The Lancet on Wednesday night by 122 scientists and doctors from the UK and overseas, calling on the government to rethink its “dangerous and premature” reopening plans.