The leading Covid-19 testing expert, Dr Quinton Fivelman PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory, is warning that the Government’s ‘Living with Covid’ plans are extremely misguided, as they ignore mounting evidence that up to 30% of people could develop PASC (Post-acute sequelae of coronavirus), commonly known as ‘Long Covid’.
Dr Fivelman warns: ‘1 April is a grimly appropriate date to end the provision of free Covid testing in England. Infection rates remain high and there are still significant numbers of people in hospital with the virus. Even the Government’s own top scientists have urged them to change their minds and have suggested the changes could lead to an increase in hospitalisations.
‘The new “Living with Covid” plans are foolish as they do not consider the significant number of Covid patients who go on to develop long-term symptoms that will have an impact on their quality of life, reduce their performance at work and cost the NHS millions in the future.
‘Covid-19 is not a bad cold nor even the flu; it is a new virus whose longer-term impact we are only beginning to realise. Now is not the time to be scrapping contact tracing and legal self-isolation rules. And it is absolutely not the time to end free Covid testing.
‘It’s vital that people know if they have contracted Covid-19, rather than another virus such as influenza, so that they can look out for any of the various PASC / Long Covid symptoms that scientist and doctors are increasingly concerned about.
‘There are an estimated 1.3 million people in the UK currently suffering from Long Covid symptoms, according to the Government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS). That may only constitute 2% of the population, but there’s mounting concern that the true number of long-term sufferers is higher and will continue to grow, especially if we have another surge of infections.
‘A study last year by the University of Washington found that in a random group of Covid patients (over 80% of whom were never hospitalised for the virus), approximately 30% reported persistent PASC symptoms as long as nine months after illness.
‘The University of Leicester led a separate study of just over 1,000 people who had needed hospital treatment for Covid. The majority (seven in 10) had not fully recovered five months after they were discharged.
‘It is also likely that many of us are either not reporting ongoing symptoms or are experiencing new health problems that seem unassociated with a mild Covid-19 illness some months previously.
‘Continued knowledge of Covid’s prevalence will enable us to prepare for the increasing impact of PASC / Long Covid illnesses and to understand new variants entering the UK. The axing of free Covid testing means we are very likely to lose this overall picture. The Government claims free Covid testing costs it around £2bn a month, but if it ends testing too soon, that could be significantly than the final bill for businesses and the NHS if PASC symptoms continue to escalate.
‘Long-term symptoms in some PASC patients may be due to organ or tissue injury, or associated clotting or inflammatory processes experienced during their initial bout of Covid-19. A recent overview published in Frontiers in Microbiology found PASC symptoms include:
- muscle weakness
- taste disorders
- sore throat
‘The Covid-19 virus spreads through the airways to the heart, brain and almost every organ system in the body, where it may persist for months. For example, many patients report lingering “brain fog” for months after their other Covid symptoms seem to have gone. It’s part of a series of symptoms that can also lead to chronic fatigue and difficulty standing upright.
‘A South African study also found circulation problems associated with microscopic blood clots. These tiny clots may form during an infection but might persist in PASC patients and block the fine capillaries that carry oxygen to tissues throughout the body.
‘Ongoing breathlessness is another severe problem for many PASC sufferers. A team of British scientists have been researching potential lung damage in a group of PASC patients who had never been hospitalised. Detailed scans of their lung function revealed that most of the patients took in oxygen less efficiently than healthy people did. These abnormalities were not detected on normal CT scans and were present many months after initial infection.
‘If this proves to be a widespread problem, it could have a considerable impact on health services. Only continued, free, Government-provided tests can indicate how prevalent the virus remains and prepare the NHS for the scale of PASC problems. We are also working closely with the medical community to help support PASC / Long Covid sufferers and looking to assist with regular blood tests. Free tests are also the best way to inform people if they have caught Covid, so that they can be on the lookout for future PACS symptoms.
‘Blood tests are available for those concerned about PASC / Long Covid symptoms which check tiredness/fatigue and thyroid symptoms, and general health profiles. If anyone wants to know if they have actually had Covid in the past, and how their immune system responded, to an infection or the vaccine, taking a quantitative Covid antibody test is recommended. The new generation blood tests available from London Medical Laboratory are highly accurate, quick and simple to carry out, either at home through the post, or at one of the many drop-in clinics that offer this test across London and the southeast. For full details see: https://www.privatecoronavirustests.com/product/igg-quantitative