MPs are calling on Boris Johnson to compensate key workers suffering from long Covid.
The All-Party Group on Coronavirus sent a letter, signed by 65 MPs and peers to the PM, asking for long Covid to be recognised as an occupational disease.
The group is calling on the government to provide a compensation scheme for key workers who contracted Covid-19 while working on the frontline during the pandemic.
Layla Moran, who chairs a committee of MPs looking into coronavirus, said: ‘The government called on frontline and key workers to support our country in our time of need, and now its time for the government to grant frontline and keyworkers the recognition, compensation and support they and their families need.
‘The scheme must go beyond existing sick pay schemes and must be specific to those living with long Covid.
‘The scheme should mirror the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and recognise the relapsing nature of long Covid.
‘Our frontline and key workers are the true heroes of the pandemic and any further delay in launching this compensation scheme would be a dereliction of duty and would amount to abandoning the very people to whom we owe the most.’
Long Covid can present with clusters of symptoms that are often overlapping and/or fluctuating.
The British Medical Association has highlighted 55 different long-term effects but common symptoms of long Covid include breathlessness, headaches, cough, fatigue and cognitive impairment or ‘brain fog’.
Approximately One in 10 people with Covid-19 continue to experience symptoms and impaired quality of life beyond 12 weeks.
There is also emerging evidence that some people experience organ damage.
Amy, 27, has been experiencing ongoing breathing problems after first contracting Covid-19 three months ago. She said:
‘I expected to be fully recovered within two weeks, but I actually isolated for three weeks because I just didn’t feel comfortable going out, I was still really poorly.
‘At my age, I didn’t expect to suffer symptoms for more than just a few days. Feeling that poorly for that long, hearing all the horror stories and things, I wondered if I would actually go back to normal.
‘I exercise a lot and it was really scary thinking that I might not actually get back to that again. It’s quite shocking to me actually that three months on I’m still not really myself.’
The government has said it will invest £18.5m into four studies looking at the longer-term effects of Covid.
The funding will be given to four studies to identify the causes of long Covid and effective therapies to treat people who experience chronic symptoms of the disease.
The projects were chosen following a UK-wide call to find ambitious and comprehensive research programmes to help address the physical and mental health effects of Covid-19 in those experiencing longer-term symptoms but who do not require admittance into hospital.
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock said: ‘I am acutely aware of the lasting and debilitating impact long Covid can have on people of all ages, irrespective of the extent of the initial symptoms.
‘Fatigue, headaches and breathlessness can affect people for months after their Covid-19 infection regardless of whether they required hospital admission initially.
‘In order to effectively help these individuals, we need to better understand long Covud and identify therapeutics that can help recovery. This funding will kickstart four ambitious projects to do just that.’
A spokesman for Long Covid SOS, a group campaigning for recognition of the debilitating effects of long Covid, welcomed the funding: ‘We are pleased that this funding addresses the most pressing issues for all groups with long Covid.
‘The inclusion of risk factors and the focus on the care we receive is most welcome, and we hope it will also lead to strategies for preventing this debilitating illness.
‘We anticipate that the work on potential drugs and treatments will assist additional research in this area and help people with Long Covid to return to normal, healthy lives.’
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