New data has found that more than one in every 20 adults in Ireland are actively living with self-reported symptoms of long Covid.
The data is based on a survey commissioned by Independent TD Denis Naughten and conducted by leading polling company Ireland Thinks.
Based on figures pertaining to the Irish adult population; the polling data shows that more than 192,000 people across the country could be impacted by long Covid.
The results of the Ireland Thinks survey found that:
- 5.1 per cent of adults in Ireland are living with self-reported symptoms of long Covid.
- 76 per cent of those with symptoms report that their ability to perform daily activities has been reduced as a result.
- The most frequently reported symptom is fatigue (68 per cent) followed by shortness of breath (50 per cent) and sleep problems (42 per cent).
- Memory problems are more commonly experienced by 18–34-year-olds (51 per cent) compared to those aged 65+ (10 per cent).
A similar study commissioned by Mr Naughten in November 2022, found that 6 per cent of adults in Ireland were reporting symptoms of long Covid; hence this most recent study shows a marginal reduction in the active community prevalence.
The significance of this reduction is unclear but it is expected data from an official HSE-commissioned survey on long Covid later this year should provide a greater insight into the emerging trends.
The exploratory survey 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".
Mr 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".
He said this should include classifying it as an occupational illness for frontline workers, allocating funding to fully operationalise specialist clinics and recruiting specialist clinicians across the health service.
Many adults living with long Covid are unable to return to employment. Of the patients attending the country’s only neurology clinic for long Covid, two-thirds (66 per cent) have been unable to return to full-time work.
Mr Naughten said: “This polling data demonstrates that between November 2022 to the present day, there has been a reduction, albeit marginal, in the active community prevalence of long Covid. 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.
“As per figures released by the HSE, we know that patients are waiting an average of 15 weeks for an initial appointment at a long Covid clinic – with some waiting up to 35 weeks, as was the case in Tallaght Hospital.
“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."
The poll was conducted by Ireland Thinks between July 5th - 18th, with a sample size of 1,004.
By James Cox
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