Long COVID has a significant impact on UK workforce, study finds

Researchers have warned the long-term effects of coronavirus will have a significant impact on the UK workforce for some time.

Of those who have been infected with Covid-19, 5.5 per cent of people will develop life-changing chronic illness, in particular heart and lung conditions. Others have also experienced long lasting symptoms, including shortness of breath, fatigue, fever, headaches, brain fog and other neurological problems.

A new collaborative study by the Universities of Portsmouth and Southampton, published in Applied Economics Letters, estimates that 80,000 people had left employment due to Long Covid by early March this year.

Donald Houston, Professor of Economic Geography at the University of Portsmouth and co-author of the paper, said: “Continued waves of coronavirus infections, which may go on for a number of years, will keep people off work while sick with Long Covid. Many will lose their jobs and some will remain out of the workforce for a long time or permanently.”

At the peak of the Omicron wave in February, 2.9 million people of working-age (7 per cent of the total) had experienced persistent Covid-19 symptoms for more than 12 weeks. This figure is expected to rise following the current wave of infections, given that vaccination only gives modest protection against Long Covid.

“The effects of this is what we can feel now in the economy,” said Dr Darja Reuschke, Associate Professor of Economic Geography at the University of Southampton and co-author of the paper.

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