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Long Covid: What's changed, and what we know now

More than two million people in the UK say they have symptoms of Long Covid, according to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey.

Many long Covid patients now report Omicron was their first infection.

But almost three years into the pandemic there is still a struggle to be seen by specialist clinics, which are hampered by a lack of resources and research.

So has the condition changed at all, and have treatments started to progress?

NICE defines Llong Covid, or post-Covid syndrome, as symptoms during or after infection that continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis.

An estimated 1.2m of those who answered the ONS survey reported at least one such symptom continuing for more than 12 weeks - health issues that they didn't think could be explained by anything else.

It's easy to assume that new cases of long Covid have significantly decreased, given recent research suggesting the risk of developing long Covid from the Omicron variant is lower. However, the sheer scale of cases over the past year has resulted in more than a third of people with long Covid acquiring it during the Omicron wave, according to the ONS.

Patients are usually referred to post-Covid assessment clinics after experiencing symptoms for 12 weeks - however, waiting times have not improved much within the past year.

The latest NHS England figures show 33% of Londoners given an initial assessment had to wait 15 weeks or more from the time of their referral, compared to 39% from a similar period in 2021.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has called on the government to increase funding for Long Covid clinics to deal with ever-increasing patient numbers. The BMA says that NHS England's 2022 strategy set out in July failed to announce any new funding.

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Source: BBC News, 18 November 2022


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