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I’m a consultant in infectious diseases. ‘Long Covid’ is anything but a mild illness | Joanna Herman

Nine months on from the virus, I am seriously debilitated. This is how the new NHS clinics need to help thousands of us

With the excitement of the Covid vaccine’s arrival, it may be easy to forget and ignore those of us with “long Covid”, who are struggling to reclaim our previous, pre-viral lives and continue to live with debilitating symptoms. Even when the NHS has managed the herculean task of vaccinating the nation, Covid-19 and the new mutant variants of the virus will continue to circulate, leaving more people at risk of long Covid. Data from a King’s College London study in September suggested as many as 60,000 people in the UK could be affected, but the latest statistics from the Office for National Statistics suggest it could be much higher.

I was acutely ill in March, though – like many people with long Covid – mine was defined as a “mild” case not requiring admission to hospital. Nine months on, I am seriously debilitated, with crashing post-exertional fatigue, often associated with chest pains. On bad days, my brain feels like it doesn’t want to function, even a conversation can be too much. I have no risk factors, I’m in my 50s, and have always been fit, but remain too unwell to work – ironically as a consultant in infectious diseases. Watching the pandemic unfold from the sidelines when I should have been working in the thick of it has only added to the frustration of my protracted illness.

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