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Long Covid more common in people who are unemployed and not seeking work

You’re more likely to become Covid for a long time if you’re unemployed and not looking for a job, official figures show

  • One in 20 economically ‘inactive’ people has the condition, according to ONS
  • Long Covid rate is estimated at about one in 30 for people in paid employment
  • In total, an estimated 1.8 million Britons have persistent Covid symptoms

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Long Covid is more common among people who are unemployed and not looking for work, figures suggest.

The latest official estimates — based on self-reports — indicate that one in 20 economically ‘inactive’ people has the condition, not counting students and retirees.

Meanwhile, the rate is believed to be about one in 30 for people in paid employment, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) through July.

The agency estimates that about one in 34 retirees and one in 60 college students had long-term Covid, based on a random sample of households surveyed last month.

Rates of the condition have more than doubled in the past year among the economically inactive and retirees, for reasons unclear.

Overall, it was estimated that 1.8 million Britons had Covid for a long time – defined as people with persistent symptoms four weeks after a Covid infection.

It was the second month in a row that rates of the poorly understood condition fell, after rising in line with infections during the pandemic.

The latest official estimates indicate that one in 20 people who are unemployed and not looking for work (listed as 'inactive') had long-standing Covid last month.  The percentage is estimated to be about one in 30 for people in paid employment, one in 34 retirees and one in 60 students

The latest official estimates indicate that one in 20 people who are unemployed and not looking for work (listed as ‘inactive’) had long-standing Covid last month. The percentage is estimated to be about one in 30 for people in paid employment, one in 34 retirees and one in 60 students

In total, an estimated 1.8 million Britons had a long spell of Covid on July 2, defined as people with persistent symptoms four weeks after a Covid infection

In total, an estimated 1.8 million Britons had a long spell of Covid on July 2, defined as people with persistent symptoms four weeks after a Covid infection

In total, an estimated 1.8 million Britons had Covid for a long time on July 2 – defined as people with persistent symptoms four weeks after a Covid infection

The ONS estimates are based on survey responses from 220,000 people in the UK in the four weeks to 2 July.

Rates rose from 1.9 percent last July to 5 percent last month among those who were unemployed and not looking for a job.

Among retirees, the percentage rose from 1.3 percent to 2.9 percent in the same period.

The increases among the employed and unemployed are slower, from 2 percent to 3.3 percent and 2.13 percent to 3.5 percent.

Long Covid rates have remained broadly the same among college students, who tend to be younger and less likely to have a serious initial Covid infection.

The ONS said the rise in long-term Covid among economically inactive and retired people “could be caused by people already in these groups developing long-term Covid symptoms, or people with long-term Covid moving into these groups from other status categories.”

Overall, the ONS report indicates that 1.79 million people had Covid last month, down from 1.9 million in June and lower than the roughly 2 million who had it at its peak in May.

Earlier in the pandemic, there was great fear of the long-term impact of Covid, with some researchers warning it could cripple the economy and spark a mini-epidemic of its own.

But studies suggest that the milder Omicron subvariants that were dominant in the UK in 2022 are less likely to cause long-lasting symptoms than previous strains.

The number of people who have had symptoms for at least a year also fell to 761,000 last month, but these patients still account for 40 percent of cases.

Another 380,000 said they had had Covid for two years or more. The majority – 1.4 million – have had symptoms for three months.

Seven in ten people with the condition said it affected their ability to perform daily activities, while a fifth said their lives were “much limited.”

Fatigue remained the most common symptom (54 percent), followed by shortness of breath (31 percent), loss of smell (23 percent) and muscle aches (22 percent).

The prevalence was greatest in people aged 35 to 69, women, people living in deprived areas, home care workers and people with co-morbid conditions.

Sir Patrick Vallance steps down as No10’s chief scientific adviser

Sir Patrick Vallance will step down as the government’s chief scientific adviser, it was announced this week.

He became a household name during Covid, appearing alongside Boris Johnson and his esteemed colleague Sir Chris Whitty at exciting Downing Street briefings to talk the nation through the crisis.

But the 62-year-old was also nicknamed “Dr Doom” during the pandemic because he was the face of SAGE’s bleak projections.

Sir Patrick will resign from his job in April, which pays up to £185,000 a year.

He then becomes chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Natural History Museum.

Boris Johnson said: “Sir Patrick may not have counted on becoming a household name when he applied for the job.

“But I am immensely grateful for his advice and expertise during the pandemic and beyond.”

The outgoing Prime Minister added: ‘It is impossible to fully convey the impact Sir Patrick has had as Chief Scientific Adviser.

“He has been instrumental in expanding and accelerating this country’s scientific superpower.

Overseeing the development and innovative use of new technologies, responding to the global threat of climate change, advancing our country’s life sciences and health, and ensuring that our policies and decisions are informed by the latest and greatest scientific insights.

“It is our scientists and clinicians, led by Sir Patrick, Sir Chris and their team, who, along with my government, oversaw the largest vaccine rollout in British history.

“He will be missed by all when he leaves next year, and I wish him all the best in all future endeavours.”

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