Coronavirus

Long COVID numbers ‘much lower’ than first predicted, ONS research shows

A new Office for National Statistics (ONS) study has found that the number of people suffering with Long COVID is not as high as first feared.

Latest figures have revealed that one in 40 people will experience lasting coronavirus symptoms, significantly lower than the ‘one in 10 ONS prediction’ that was made in April.

Various findings have been circulating due to Long COVID being a new and unknown condition.

Researchers from the ONS randomly examined more than 500,000 participants, 50% of who were infected with COVID-19.

Each participant filled in surveys about their current symptoms. Fatigue, a high temperature, muscle pain, a continuous cough and changes to taste and smell are among the Long COVID symptoms listed by the ONS. Unlike other Long COVID studies, this ONS list did not include ‘brain fog’ as a symptom.

They found that three percent of the participants who have previously had COVID-19 experienced some symptoms for more than three months after being initially infected.

Whereas, less than one percent of the participants who tested negative had Long COVID symptoms.

Additionally, the findings disclose that Long COVID is more common in people with lifelong health conditions and females aged between 50 and 60.

Individuals who had a high amount of virus in their system when first being infected are also more prone to experience lasting COVID symptoms, the study reports.

The ONS report stated: “Our estimates are closer to the truth than the higher estimates we gave in April, because we have long-term follow-up on a lot of people and they’ve improved their statistical analysis.”

Emeritus Professor of Statistics at the Open University, Profess Kevin McConway said: “It does not concern me that, at this stage in the pandemic, numerical estimates about something as new and complicated as Long COVID differ quite a lot.

“What is important is that those involved should discuss openly what needs to be done to clarify the position”

He added: “The need to do that should not hold up the establishment and improvement of services to help people with the condition.”

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