Britain’s next public health crisis is already looming: Long Covid. The numbers are stark. According to the Office for National Statistics, 1.5 million people in the UK have long Covid, 281,000 of whom are so ill that their ability to undertake day-to-day activities has been limited “a lot”.
Ravi Veriah Jacques knows first hand how debilitating Long Covid can be. He is only 23. Before Covid struck, Ravi had just graduated from Stanford University and was halfway through a master’s degree at Tsinghua University, Beijing, as a Schwarzman scholar. However, he has been seriously ill for a full year. Hisy main symptom has been an intense fatigue that has forced me to spend up to 16 hours a day in bed and, when I do get up, I can’t do any strenuous activity without my symptoms worsening. Long Covid has put my life almost completely on hold.
Yet Ravi has received no effective medical treatment. He is being seen in London at University College hospital’s Long Covid clinic, where he has been prescribed antihistamines and given advice on how to manage his symptoms. Neither measure has made a dent on his fatigue.
Ravi's experience is far from unique. None of the more than 80 specialist NHS Long Covid clinics can offer longhaulers effective treatments. But the clinics aren’t the primary issue. The fundamental problem is that we lack treatments because research isn’t progressing fast enough.