Boris Johnson is facing calls to take into account the “untold human suffering” of long Covid and seek to limit coronavirus’s spread as he eases lockdown restrictions.
A cross-party group of more than 65 MPs and peers criticised the Prime Minister for having “largely overlooked” the long-term effect of the disease during the pandemic.
And they said it would be “unforgivable to make the same mistake again” as he eases England’s third lockdown, allowing for the potential for the prevalence of the virus to rise once again.
It is estimated that more than a million people in the UK are suffering with the extended effects of a coronavirus infection.
The Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has noted that while vaccines are expected to keep deaths down, it is unclear whether they will have an impact on long Covid.
The group of politicians, including Tory MP Dr Dan Poulter, issued the fresh warning in a letter to the Prime Minister.
“The impact of this condition and the untold human suffering it causes must be properly taken into account when decisions are being made to lift restrictions and introduce long-term measures to contain the spread of the virus,” they said.
“Those suffering from long Covid were largely overlooked during the first and second waves in this pandemic. Given what we now know about this condition, it would be unforgivable to make the same mistake again.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock cited the dangers of long Covid on Thursday as a reason why young people should come forward for a vaccine even if they have concerns of side effects.
“I would say that the risk of severe consequences from long Covid are very significant for young people,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“The likelihood of you getting long Covid is more or less the same in all age groups and can be debilitating, it can impact your mental health, it can make it very difficult to do any physical activity for months.”
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who arranged the letter and chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, noted the Prime Minister has promised to be “guided by data not dates”.
“That must include publishing regular figures on long Covid cases and factoring them into the Government’s road map out of the current lockdown,” she added.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “Covid-19 can have lasting and debilitating impacts on the lives of those affected and we are doing all we can to help, with almost 70 specialist clinics open across the country to improve treatment.
“We are learning more about long Covid all the time and have already invested over £30 million of research funding to support innovative projects.
“On top of that we are also running a new £20 million call for research on the long-term impacts of Covid-19 through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).”