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Coronavirus booster vaccines to be offered to over 50s in Autumn

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Although most recover from COVID-19, many sadly do not, and some experience symptoms for more than 12 weeks after infection.

These are a new group of patients who fall under the banner of long Covid, a new chronic condition caused by the virus.

Long Covid varies in its severity; while some are unable to leave bed, others remain able to continue their everyday lives.

Falling under the less severe end of this spectrum are those who have lost their sense and smell and taste.

According to a recent study, up to one in 20 people infected will never regain these senses.

That is according to a new study of COVID-19 patients.

Leader of study Paolo Boscolo-Rizzo of the University of Trieste said: “Loss of smell and taste adversely affects quality of life by depriving those affected of several everyday pleasures and social bonds.

“People can also experience anorexia, food aversions, malnutrition, anxiety, taking albuterol with flexeril and depression.”

As well as losing their sense of smell, others have had it permanently altered, a condition known as parosmia.

While not as severe as chronic fatigue syndrome or heart palpitations, this can still make everyday life difficult as ordinary pleasures suddenly become oral trials.

Long Covid is becoming a growing problem, the ONS (Office for National Statistics) say over two million people in the UK live with the condition.

Dr Kiren Collison, chair of the NHS long Covid taskforce, said: “Long Covid can be devastating for those living with it, and while we continue to learn more about this new condition, it’s important people know they’re not alone, and that the NHS is here for them.”

Of the NHS’s long Covid strategy, Dr Collison added: “In just under two years, the NHS has invested £224million to support people experiencing long term effects from Covid – from setting up specialist clinics, hubs for children, and an online recovery platform, to providing training for GP teams.

“Today’s plan builds on this world-leading care, to ensure support is there for everyone who needs it, and that patients requiring specialist support can access care in a timely and more convenient way.”

Dr Collison’s come at a time when long Covid patients and doctors are beginning to speak out about how much attention, or rather how little, is being paid to long Covid.

A recent survey of Healthcare Practitioners (HCPs) found many were calling for the government to invest more in long Covid research.

The HCPs also highlighted how much long Covid was costing not just patients, but the economy as well.

A recent report by the IFS (Institute for Fiscal Studies) projected long Covid could be costing the UK up to £15billion in lost earnings as workers call in sick.

The report said low-income families were the most affected alongside, an example of a growing health inequality within the UK.

While unnerving to read of, it forms part of a litany of challenges that form part of the long Covid puzzle, one that governments and health systems must begin the process of solving for the sake of future patients.

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