Long Covid and long term COVID health problems are not rare and are affecting many in our community.

People across all ages, health groups and backgrounds are developing long Covid and Covid related health problems. It’s thought a significant number of people are unaware they are affected as they haven’t connected their symptoms, which vary and can start months later, with Covid infection. Awareness of Long Covid can help us help ourselves and each other better.

In Tynwald June 21 2022, DHSC Minister Lawrie Hooper said: ‘Based on estimates produced by the ONS in the UK in relation to the UK population, if applied to the Isle of Man, there could be as many as 1,200 adults with Long COVID or post-COVID syndrome.’

However, according to UK ONS approx. two million people have reported Long Covid. With Manx infection rates being similar to the UK (supported by WHO data prior to changes in testing and reporting in UK and IOM) and similar vaccination, applied to the IOM population that would be 2,620 people (1st May ONS 3.1% of UK population reporting Long Covid, 3.1% of IOM population, 84,500 = 2,620). *3

A large global data study of over 1 million Covid survivors found nearly half developed Long Covid. *4

Vaccination helps reduce the risk of developing Long Covid by 15% found recent large study. *5

‘A World Health Organization official said on Monday that the more times an individual gets infected with COVID-19, the more likely they are to be “unlucky” and contract long-term health effects from the virus. The more times you get it, the more likely you are to be unlucky and end up with long COVID — which is the thing that none of us want because it can be so serious,” David Nabarro, a WHO special envoy for COVID-19, told Sky News.’

‘Nabarro said on Monday that the WHO does not believe that the more times an individual gets COVID-19, the more immunity they have against potential future infections because the virus is constantly changing and can “duck past” antibodies from previous infections.’ *6

Islanders

Local resident: ‘With all the evidence we really need to put some ideas from earlier in the pandemic to bed, such as: ‘it’s only the elderly and vulnerable who should be concerned about COVID’, ‘it’s just a cold / flu’ and ‘vaccination alone will solve the problem’. I’m a classic example of all those things being untrue” explains Isle of Man resident X. “I was fully vaccinated, fit, healthy and in my early 40s when I developed Long COVID. I had a ‘mild’ initial COVID infection and bounced back quickly, I felt fine but a few months later I started forgetting things. I was blaming stress and tiredness but another month or so later physical symptoms started; I’d developed Long COVID.

‘If I didn’t get the physical symptoms too (and some don’t) I wonder if I would have sought help or just struggled on blaming other things and making my health worse. I didn’t know that brain and mood issues are such a common COVID problem, we still talk about COVID as just a respiratory virus though it’s a neurotropic virus too – it’s a multiorgan and multisystem virus. As an adult it was hard to identify, understand and explain my head symptoms, I don’t know how a child would even start to.’

Manx Long Covid Children (Facebook Group): ‘Across the Isle of Man we have children affected by Long COVID and it’s having a big impact on their lives and education. Some have become significantly disabled and are unable to attend school fulltime. For some children the impact is obvious to see though for others, like adults, it’s more subtle though can still be debilitating and very challenging. ‘Invisible’ symptoms and the relapsing and remitting nature can mean sufferers may appear well when they are not. This can lead to misdiagnosis, unrealistic expectations, disbelief and lack of support. Raising awareness is important for all aspects of Long COVID, which have far reaching impacts beyond the individual.’

What can we do about it? 

Share awareness of Long Covid. We don’t know who will develop long term health issues and we are now seeing people who didn’t develop Long Covid on first or early infections, developing it on reinfection. Look after yourself and pay attention to any changes in your health and behaviour, even many months after possible infection. Rest and pacing is an important part of post viral recovery and also very important in cases of Long Covid. 

Good Covid safety is important for all ages and we can all play a part.  Awareness of airborne transmission and effective protections are important (SPACE/ventilation, FACE). Easily available FFP2/FFP3 (N95/KN95) masks are highly effective and recommended. *7

Additional information / sources:

*1 https://time.com/6191655/long-covid-under-diagnosed/ 

*2 Tynwald Hansard

*3  https://ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/prevalenceofongoingsymptomsfollowingcoronaviruscovid19infectionintheuk/1june2022

*4 https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2022/04/global-data-reveal-half-may-have-long-covid-4-months

https://academic.oup.com/jid/advance-article/doi/10.1093/infdis/jiac136/6569364

*5 https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/long-covid-still-a-risk-even-for-vaccinated-people 

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-01453-0

*6 https://www.businessinsider.com/who-official-individuals-coronavirus-infection-unlucky-long-covid-2022-6 

*7 Effectiveness of Face Mask or Respirator Use in Indoor Public Settings for Prevention of SARS-CoV-2 Infection — California, February–December 2021 | MMWR (cdc.gov)