Posted: Wed 27th Jul 2022

110,000 workers missing from work as a result of long COVID at a cost of £1.5 billion a year in lost earnings

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jul 27th, 2022

The number of people with long COVID has been on the rise according to the  Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

ONS figures showed that there were almost 2 million people with the condition as of May 2022, around double the number a year before. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

About 2 million people in the UK have persistent symptoms after COVID infection, termed long COVID. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Commonly reported long COVID symptoms, such as fatigue and shortness of breath, have a significant effect on people’s daily activities, quality of life and capacity to work. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

New IFS research shows that having long COVID causes one in ten sufferers who were in work to stop work while they have the condition. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

According to the IFS, “it is likely” that around 110,000 people are missing from work at any one time as a result of long COVID. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

IFS research also shows that on average, those who stop work because of long COVID are losing £1,100 per month in earnings. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Across the UK this adds up to almost £1.5 billion per year. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Compared to those without long COVID, those who are suffering from the condition were, pre-pandemic, more likely to be claiming benefits (41% versus 28%), be in poverty (25% versus 19%) and live in social housing (25% versus 17%). ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“While previous research has shown that women, those with pre-existing medical conditions and those in poorer parts of the country were more likely to be hit, this is the first evidence showing that long COVID is more prevalent among deprived individuals.” The IFS has said. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Long COVID’s effects are quite persistent, with evidence of sufferers still missing from work at least three months after infection, though by the six-month mark the effects are considerably smaller and most have returned to work. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Tom Wernham, a Research Economist at IFS and an author of the report, said: ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

‘Though acute COVID is no longer the severe threat to public health and the economy that it once was, the impact of long COVID has continued to grow over time, with almost 2 million now suffering from the condition.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Our research suggests that for a significant minority of long COVID sufferers, the condition has severe effects not only on their health but on their ability to do paid work.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“The rising rate of long COVID could therefore put additional strain on families during the cost of living crisis, especially as long COVID is more common among poorer families, as well as drag on a struggling economy – we estimate there are 110,000 workers missing from work as a result.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​


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