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13th Jul 2021

Delta variant surge ‘could leave hundreds of thousands with long Covid’

Charlie Herbert

All remaining Covid restrictions will be lifted on Monday.

Ahead of England’s remaining lockdown restrictions being lifted on July 19, ministers are being warned that many could be left suffering with long Covid as the Delta variant surges across the country.

The easing of restrictions will see Covid cases rise even more, with one leading scientist saying that the country is entering “uncharted territory” in terms of people suffering from long Covid.

Researchers are warning that, although the vaccine rollout will see far fewer deaths and hospitalisations from Covid compared to recent waves, there will still be hundreds of thousands of younger people who develop long-term health problems from Covid-19. When lockdown restrictions are lifted on July 19, more than 17 million people will still not have any protection against the virus.

Long Covid refers to a number of symptoms that can remain with a person for months after they have contracted the virus.

Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College, says that evidence from other countries suggests that a large number of people who get Covid are at risk of developing long-term illness.

He told the Guardian: “From every version of Covid we’ve ever seen on the planet, we’ve got a rule of thumb that any case of Covid, whether it’s asymptomatic, mild, severe, or hospitalised, incurs a 10 to 20 per cent risk of developing long Covid, and we haven’t seen any exceptions to that.

The government has already made clear that cases will rise dramatically from the 19th, with Sajid Javid saying that case numbers could reach 100,000 a day. Altmann said that it is very difficult to plan for the impact of long Covid, but that the situation looks “fairly serious and fairly scary.”

He said: “It’s a nightmare for anyone to plan for accurately because it’s such a slippery thing to get hold of. We don’t understand where we’re headed because we’re in truly uncharted territory, but we know enough to know it looks fairly serious and fairly scary.”