Prevalence of ongoing symptoms following coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the UK: 30 March 2023

The study titled “Prevalence of ongoing symptoms following coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the UK: 30 March 2023” provides valuable insights into the state of long COVID in the UK.

Key findings from the study are as follows:

  1. Prevalence of Long COVID: An estimated 1.9 million people (2.9% of the UK population) were experiencing self-reported long COVID as of 5 March 2023. This condition is defined as symptoms persisting for more than four weeks after the first confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection, which are not explained by other causes​​.
  2. Duration and Variants: Among those with self-reported long COVID, 4% had their first (or suspected) COVID-19 infection less than 12 weeks ago, 92% at least 12 weeks ago, 69% at least one year ago, and 41% at least two years ago. Additionally, 29% had their first infection before the Alpha variant became dominant, with others experiencing their first infection during the Alpha, Delta, and Omicron periods​​.
  3. Impact on Daily Activities: Long COVID symptoms significantly impacted daily activities for 79% of sufferers, with 20% reporting a substantial limitation in their ability to perform day-to-day activities​​.
  4. Common Symptoms: The most commonly reported symptoms were fatigue (72%), difficulty concentrating (51%), muscle ache (49%), and shortness of breath (48%)​​.
  5. Demographic Variations: The prevalence was highest among individuals aged 35 to 69 years, females, those in more deprived areas, individuals working in social care, people aged 16 and over who were not working and not looking for work, and those with another activity-limiting health condition or disability​​.
  6. Methodology: The study used a remote data collection method and was based on 269,971 responses. It’s important to note that these results are not comparable with previous studies that used face-to-face interviews. Also, long COVID in this study is self-reported, which can introduce some biases or misclassification​​.
  7. Experimental Statistics: It’s emphasized that long COVID is still an emerging phenomenon, not yet fully understood, and these are experimental statistics. The estimates may change as scientific understanding of long COVID evolves​​.
  8. Weighting and Response Bias: The responses were weighted to represent the UK population in private households. However, not all sampled households participated, and there could be biases if non-response is related to long COVID​​.
  9. Survey Participation: All participants had the opportunity to answer survey questions related to long COVID, regardless of whether they had previously tested positive for COVID-19​​.

This summary provides a comprehensive overview of the study’s findings, reflecting the current understanding and challenges in quantifying and comprehending long COVID.

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