● Survey is the Ireland’s first exploratory poll carried out on the incidence of long COVID
● New data comes in the wake of decision to permanently close the long COVID clinic at the Mater Hospital in Dublin
New data released today has found that 6% of adults in Ireland are living with self-reported symptoms of long COVID. The data is based on a survey carried out by leading polling company, Ireland Thinks, and was commissioned by Independent T.D. Denis Naughten.
Deputy Naughten recently called for long COVID to be recognised as an occupational hazard for frontline workers, and urged the Government to treat patients presenting with ongoing symptoms with the same urgency as the initial wave of infections.
This is the first exploratory survey of its kind to be conducted in Ireland, and offers a stark perspective on the community prevelance of long COVID, which does not currently have a defined treatment pathway. Symptoms of long Covid include fatigue and brain fog, which are experienced at least 12 weeks after the initial infection for significant periods of time, in some cases over two years.
The HSE has recognised the need to treat patients with long Covid with plans in place since September 2021 to establish 14 specialist long Covid centres across the country but to date just one third of the required staff have been recruited.
Despite the failure to deliver these clinics for people suffering with long COVID symptoms the only fully operational clinic treating patients with neurological symptoms at the Mater Hospital has closed its doors due to a lack of funding.
The polling data shows that:
● 6% of adults in Ireland have self-reported symptoms of long COVID in excess of 12 weeks, with a further 3% of adults self-reporting the onset of symptoms for less than 12 weeks.
● 67% of those reporting symptoms experienced a continuation of symptoms more than twelve weeks after an initial infection with COVID-19.
○ This figure is higher among women (69%) than men (60%)
● 84% of those with symptoms of long COVID report that their ability to conduct daily activities has been reduced as a result.
● The most commonly reported symptom is fatigue (84%) followed by shortness of breath (59%), sleep problems (44%), memory problems (43%) and muscle ache (39%).
○ Fatigue is the most commonly reported symptom among all age groups, bar 18-24, where shortness of breath is most frequently reported.
A similar study, which extended beyond the adult population to include children, was published recently by the Office for National Statistics in the UK and this analysis finds that 2.2 million people are living with self-reported long COVID symptoms in the UK. Of this, 87% reported their symptoms of long COVID as continuing for more than twelve weeks since their infection of COVID-19. Similar to the Irish data, 75% of long COVID sufferers reported their ability to carry out daily activities had been limited by either ‘a little’ or ‘a lot’. Across both countries, fatigue is the most commonly reported symptom of long COVID.
Commenting on the research, Deputy Denis Naughten said: “The findings released today from the first comprehensive survey on the prevalence of long COVID in Ireland, show the need to urgently address the care requirements of those who are suffering with this illness. While the mechanism behind the disease has yet to be fully defined, given the proportion of the population in Ireland living with long COVID, it is imperative that evidence-based treatment pathways be explored as a priority.
“We need to take a full-scale approach to treating long COVID – multidisciplinary clinics with involvement from respiratory specialists, infectious disease physicians, neurologists, cardiologists and psychologists who can provide patients with a comprehensive assessment and a holistic treatment plan.
“There are an estimated 21,459 adults* who are unable to work because of long COVID. They need appropriate medical care to allow them to return to the workforce; and adequate support to facilitate their recovery. We know that recovery from long COVID is possible, but the Government must now step up and deploy every available resource promptly and without delay.”
About the polling data:
The poll was conducted by Ireland Thinks between Friday 4th and Saturday 5th November, with a sample size of 1,328. Ireland Thinks has a panel of 30,000 respondents – its algorithm chooses 5,000 specific individuals to take part in each poll. These individuals are selected based on their demographics and behaviours (age, gender, religious adherence, educational attainment, past voting behaviour) to ensure that they are an exact replica of the census, and within that, the general population. Polling is conducted via an SMS message that is sent directly to participants.
Respondents were asked whether they had experienced symptoms associated with long COVID following an initial period of infection with COVID-19. Those who reported symptoms were then requested to provide a timeline for onset of those symptoms, to describe any changes to their ability to perform daily activities as a result, and to list symptoms they had experienced.
For more, visit: https://www.irelandthinks.ie/
Claim that 21,459 adults are unable to work due to COVID-19:
https://denisnaughten.ie/2022/11/06/21459-adults-unable-to-work-due-to-long-covid-naughten/ on foot of parliamentary questions asked by Deputy Naughten to Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys T.D. Based on this response, 0.81% of Enhanced Illness Benefit Claimants of over 10 weeks went on to receive another illness payment for at least 2 weeks. This meets the emerging scientific criteria for long COVID.
Claim that just one third of staff have been recruited to operate the long COVID clinics. This is based on a parliamentary reply from Minister Stephen Donnelly TD