Up to 60,000 people suffering from so-called “long COVID” have had symptoms of illness for more than three months, a study has claimed.
Professor Tim Spector, who is leading the COVID Symptom Study app, said that while some people have a mild form of illness, others have been seriously affected.
Some of those affected with long-term symptoms have described how they were previously fit and healthy but now are confined to a wheelchair.
Breathlessness and fatigue have been reported by long-term sufferers and some have described how doing shopping or climbing stairs can leave them bedridden for days.
Prof Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, told BBC Radio 4’s File On 4 that data from the app shows that about 300,000 people have reported symptoms lasting for more than a month – so called “long COVID”.
Watch: Felicity Callard was fit, active and strong. Then the 49-year-old British university professor caught COVID-19
Up to 60,000 people reported having symptoms for more than three months.
On Monday, health secretary Matt Hancock said that some people were still experiencing symptoms six months after contracting the virus.
Speaking on LBC radio, Hancock said: “Long COVID, where people six months on are still ill, is prevalent among younger people.”
But Prof Spector said he is “frustrated” that data from the app is not being more widely used.
“There’s a big danger these (people) might end up being forgotten,” he said.
What is long COVID?
Long COVID is a colloquial term that refers to those people for whom the symptoms of coronavirus continue after the initial two-week period detailed by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Those who suffer from coronavirus symptoms after that are sometimes known as “COVID long-haulers”.
What are the symptoms of long COVID?
Last month, a cross-party group of MPs identified 16 symptoms of long COVID after examining submissions from patients.
4. High temperature
5. Hair loss
6. Chest pain
8. Lasting breathing problems
Watch as Yahoo UK’s Health reporter explains how coronavirus is treated
9. Purple toes
12. Muscle/body ache
14. Arrhythmia (a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat)
15. Tachycardia (where the heart beats more than 100 times per minute)
16. Cognitive problems - memory loss, confusion
How are sufferers affected?
Yahoo News senior editor Ed Hornick is a COVID long-hauler who has been experiencing symptoms since January.
He wrote earlier this month: “If I overexert myself, I get a burning, acidic feeling in my lungs, and breathing becomes difficult.
“A dry cough, along with heart palpitations, come and go. Every muscle and joint aches. If I stand up too quickly, the room gets dark and I nearly pass out.
“Electric-like zaps, along with nerve-tingling, radiate throughout my arms, legs and feet. I’m in a constant ‘brain fog’, always having trouble processing what I’ve just read or heard, or constantly trying to remember familiar names, dates and facts.
“I have constant pounding headaches that make it extremely difficult to do much of anything.”
What should sufferers do?
The government says anyone with coronavirus symptoms can get a test, but defines these as a high temperature, a new and continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.
Coronavirus: what happened today
Click here to sign up to the latest news and information with our daily Catch-up newsletter