At least in relative terms. Unlike the U.S., the UK has been monitoring random population samples through its UK COVID-19 Infection Survey (run by the Office for National Statistics, ONS) and samples over 500,000 people. A recent study reports the frequency of long COVID as defined by the following question:
“Would you describe yourself as having ‘Long Covid’, that is, you are still experiencing symptoms more than 4 weeks after you first had COVID-19, that are not explained by something else?”
This is similar to a U.S. study I discussed last week, but they also report results for a follow up question:
“Do you have any physical or mental health conditions or illnesses lasting or expected to last 12 months or more (excluding any long-lasting COVID- 19 symptoms)?” and “If yes, do any of your conditions or illnesses reduce your ability to carry-out day-to-day activities (a lot, a little, or not at all)?”
Unlike the study I mentioned last week, the data don’t include much Omicron wave (i.e., data were only analyzed through November 2021).
First, the good news: two doses lowered the likelihood of long COVID by 41%, and lowered the percent of those with severe long COVID by around thirty seven percent. That said, the not-so-good news is that 9.5% of vaccinated people had long COVID symptoms and 5.5% of vaccinated people had activity-limiting symptoms.
Hopefully, the Omicron variants don’t cause as much long COVID, but even if the rate were halved, that’s still a lot of disabled people. And we do need to desperately ramp up vaccine uptake (among many other things).
I want to opt out of this experiment.