The figures, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), are based on self-reported long Covid and collected in the four weeks to December 6 last year – before the Omicron surge took hold of the country
Around 1.3 million people in the UK – one in 50 – are likely to be suffering from long Covid, the highest number since estimates began.
This includes more than half a million people who first had Covid-19, or suspected they had the virus, at least one year ago.
The figures, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), are based on self-reported long Covid from a representative sample of people in private households.
Responses were collected in the four weeks to December 6 last year – before the recent surge in coronavirus infections driven by the Omicron variant.
The estimate of 1.3 million people with long Covid is up from 1.2 million at the end of October and 945,000 at the start of July.
Of the 1.3 million, 892,000 people (70%) first had – or suspected they had – Covid-19 at least 12 weeks previously, while 506,000 (40%) first had the virus at least a year earlier.
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Long Covid is estimated to be adversely affecting the day-to-day activities of 809,000 people – nearly two-thirds of those with self-reported long Covid – with 247,000 saying their ability to undertake day-to-day activities has been “limited a lot”, the ONS found.
Fatigue continues to be the most common symptom (experienced by 51% of those with self-reported long Covid), followed by loss of smell (37%), shortness of breath (36%) and difficulty concentrating (28%).
Among the Long Covid sufferers is freelance war photographer and author Anthony Loveless who said before his ordeal he felt “invincible”.
“Now I’m invisible. It’s a battle just to get out of bed in the mornings,” he told the Mirror last month.
Ant barely leaves the house anymore and when he does, he walks with a stick and drives a car with a blue disabled badge.
Last January, he and partner Claire Hooper tested positive for coronavirus and almost 12 months later are still suffering.
Ant, 54, added: “After Freedom Day in July, life went back to normal for everyone else.
“But we’re wrestling with benefit applications, facing bankruptcy, and the world treats us like we don’t exist. On a bad day, I can’t even get out of bed, the pain is so bad.”
Claire, 52, a former nurse and health visitor, is even less mobile.
“An exceptionally good day is being upright for an hour or two,” she said.
Claire added: “The fatigue is crippling, I can’t think in a straight line because of the migraines, and if I run the vacuum round for 10 minutes I’m laid up for the rest of the day.
“Our personalities have completely changed. Ant has lost his confidence, I’m constantly irritable. Our world has shrunk to just two rooms.”