Concern as Long COVID Numbers Not Falling – Naughten

In Health, News, Posts by Topic by Denis Naughten

Over 61,000 people have suffered from symptoms for more than 2 years

New health research launched today has revealed the incidence of long COVID symptoms has remained stubbornly constant over the last 18 months, with 6% of adults currently reporting suffering from post-pandemic symptoms.

The data is based on a series of polls, commissioned by Denis Naughten TD and conducted by Ireland Thinks between November 2022 and April 2024, of adults in Ireland self-reporting symptoms of long COVID and has consistently shown around 6% of the population reporting long COVID symptoms in each of the three polls.

“Despite early indications that many people experiencing the symptoms of long COVID would make a full recovery over time, these research findings highlight the continued prevalence of the debilitating effects of long COVID in the Irish population four years after the initial pandemic,” stated Denis Naughten. “Over 61,000 adults report they have suffered the symptoms associated with long COVID for more than two years.

“The most recent poll indicates that 27% of those with long COVID symptoms have had them for over two years, with a further 28% of adults struggling with these symptoms for more than a year. This clearly shows that the HSE long COVID clinics throughout the country are struggling to effectively treat the various symptoms of this post-viral syndrome.

“In terms of symptoms reported by those with long COVID, there seems to be little change across the 18 months that the survey has been conducted, which is again a deviation from what was initially suggested during the early stages of medical reporting on these ongoing symptoms.”

Denis Naughten added: “Another issue of concern is that of the population coping with the symptoms associated with long COVID, those aged between 55-64 are twice as likely as other groups to state that they have had the condition for more than two years. This is an indicative factor that requires further analysis by medical clinicians working with this patient group.”

The series of exploratory surveys commissioned by Denis Naughten has shed some light on the prevalence of long COVID by Irish adults self-reporting symptoms, similar to the methodology used in the UK.

This series of surveys is the first of its kind to be conducted in Ireland and offers a stark perspective on the community prevalence of long COVID, which does not currently have a defined treatment pathway.

Deputy Naughten is calling on the Government to work in tandem with the HSE, patients, frontline clinicians and other stakeholders to expedite the delivery of a national action plan on long COVID – to include a revised model of care for patients with long COVID, allocating funding to enable specialist clinics to become fully operational and to recruit specialist clinicians across the health service.

Commenting on the findings, Denis Naughten said: “Given the complexity and varied nature of the symptoms being reported, it is imperative that patients receive access to cross-speciality treatment that meets their care requirements. Aside from the daily challenges of managing symptoms, many adults living with long COVID are unable to return to employment, which does not augur well for their full participation in society, the community and the economy.

“It is imperative that we treat the scourge of long COVID with the appropriate level of urgency, commensurate with the debilitating nature of the disease and its associated symptoms. A stubbornly consistent 6% community prevalence of long COVID – as reported in these findings – could lead to a significant future burden of disease, across our health system and society more broadly.

“We need to see dedicated long COVID clinics fully operational across every hospital group with ongoing clinical engagement with patients and with adequate multi-disciplinary staff in place to support the prompt rollout of services. These clinics must allow for equitable access to care, so that long COVID patients can be fully supported to recover and resume their lives – something which so many are desperate to do,” concluded Denis Naughten.


Editor’s notes:

Table tracking reported symptoms over last 18 months:

Symptoms reported Nov ’22 poll July ’23 poll Apr ’24 poll
Fatigue 86% 68% 74%
Shortness of breath 51% 50% 52%
Sleep problems 43% 42% 43%
Muscle ache 42% 35% 38%
Memory problems 37% 39% 40%


The most recent poll results are available here:

long COVID Poll April – Covid

July 23 data:

November 22 data:


About the polling data:

The poll was conducted by Ireland Thinks between 8 April and 12 April with a sample size of 1,577. Ireland Thinks has a panel of 30,000 respondents – its algorithm chooses 5,000 individuals to take part in each poll. These individuals are selected based on their demographics and behaviours (age, gender, religiosity, educational attainment, past voting behaviour) to ensure that the sample is 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.

In this poll, respondents were asked whether they had experienced symptoms associated with long COVID following an initial period of infection with COVID-19 within the past four weeks. Those who reported symptoms were then requested to provide a timeline for the onset and continuation of those symptoms along with a list of symptoms experienced and to describe any changes to their ability to perform daily activities as a result.

Earlier polls were carried out in July 2023 and November 2023 using the same methods which are consistent with a similar study published by the Office for National Statistics in the UK

For more, visit

About long COVID:

  • The World Health Organisation defines long COVID as the “continuation or development of new symptoms 3 months after the initial months after the initial infection, with symptoms lasting for at least 2 months with no other explanation”.
  • A recent study from Trinity College Dublin found that symptoms of long COVID are linked to disruptions to the integrity of blood vessels in the brain, leading to many of the neurological symptoms associated with the disease. While these beneficial studies present opportunities to develop targeted therapies for patients, the current model of care for long COVID – which has been in place on an interim basis since September 2021 – will not be revised until at least January 2025. The rationale for this delay is based on a review from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) last year, which signalled that more research was needed to determine effective treatments for the illness. Deputy Naughten has called on Taoiseach Simon Harris to urgently address this issue.

About the population data:

The 3,842,652 figure pertains to the adult population in Ireland. This figure is based on extrapolated 2022 Census, made available via the Oireachtas Library & Research Service