Like many of my colleagues on both sides of the House, I am deeply concerned about Long Covid and we cannot wait until the end of the Pandemic to address this.
I have received some truly terrible stories from constituents suffering from this. One constituent is still suffering effects since having the disease as far back as last March, who have had months of brain fog, headaches and extreme fatigue and from one is has diagnosed heart conditions as a result of Long COVID. They feel their lives are very limited. I am very concerned to hear that feel that their GPs are not aware of, nor are concerned, about Long Covid, the symptoms, impact or advice.
We must learn from the experience of people who have suffered similar long-term and debilitating effects of ME. Doctors, employers and schools didn’t recognise it – many still don’t – and thousands of people have suffered as a result.
Professor Arne Akbar, President, British Society for Immunology is seeing the effects of long COVID and says that ‘it is clear that if we don’t take action now to properly record and research the mechanisms behind these health consequences, then we risk over-burdening our NHS with chronic health problems in the future.’
I also received an email from a leader of the UK Mastocytosis Support Group. They are developing a growing body of evidence that suggests there is a link between COVID-19 and the onset of symptoms associated with Mastocytosis and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. This underscores the need for more research into this condition, as I suspect we are only scratching the surface.
So I would like to echo the calls of the APPG for Coronavirus and ask three things of the Government:
- Formally recognise Long Covid, expand research on the long-term effects of Covid19 on people’s health to include those who were never hospitalised or tested, and launch a national registry to count the number of people living with Long Covid in the UK and spearhead global effort to research Long Covid.
- Commit to a firm date by which the NICE and SIGN guidelines for GPs will be produced.
- Collect and publish regular figures on the number of people living with Long Covid, and those who have received support under the NHS England Covid Recovery service.
So I urge the Government: please don’t kick this issue into the long grass. This is a potential ticking time bomb so let’s act now and get ahead of this condition before it explodes into another national health crisis.