The Shadow of Long Covid

Figures from the ONS (1) show the impact of “Long Covid”. While deaths have resulted from 6.2% of known infections, the rate for Long Covid is 25.1%.

This is proving to be debilitating for a long period for a significant proportion of those affected. The ONS reports that 1.7% of the total UK population is suffering long term ongoing symptoms. The figure for long term debilitating symptoms is about 1% at the moment.

As the ONS points out, we are at early stage in understanding what is likely to happen and it is unclear whether these symptoms will be permanent or how far they will fade, nor how far this will vary between people and what patterns might start to emerge over time. Nevertheless, in the immediate term, there is going to be a significant impact both on the health of the people concerned, and therefore on their ability to work or participate in social life.

The profile of people disproportionately affected is the same as for mortality rates; those in front line jobs, living in poorer areas or with poorer health, ethnic minorities; but with a greater impact among younger age groups and slightly more women than men.
This has a particular impact on certain roles. 

Health and care workers and educators are the two worst hit – and both will be under pressure from government to “catch up” – which could become unbearable and unsustainable. (2) Both of these workforces are heavily female. 77% of NHS staff, 73% of teachers and 93% of teaching assistants are women.

6.4% of the total NHS workforce has Long Covid, alongside the 1.5% currently off sick with Covid symptoms. 

The proportion of educators is even higher, at 10.8% of the whole workforce. Even if Gavin Williamson’s arguments for longer school days held any water educationally – they don’t, as anyone who has worked or learnt in a school with a longer day will tell you – the impact of trying to push it with a workforce not only stretched and exhausted by a year of teaching in person and online, but also  decimated by Long Covid – is likely to push many people – if not the system as a whole – beyond breaking point.