As the UK seeks to move on from the pandemic, more than a half-a-million people have failed to shake off its effects after being diagnosed with Long Covid.
The condition is so new that there is no hard evidence of why it affects some and not others, no cure-all medication, and seemingly no end in sight for people like university lecturer Niamh McEnery.
The mother of two from Pinner recently returned to work after being signed off for nine months and still suffers from joint pain, fatigue and ‘brain fog’, making it hard to concentrate for any length of time.
Niamh, 48, said: “Long Covid has stopped me doing simple things like going for walk with my children, swimming or strolling into the village for a coffee.”
Niamh wasn’t hospitalised when she caught Covid-19 a year ago but had an unpleasant couple of weeks, despite her family shrugging the virus off with relatively mild symptoms.
She added: “I never struggled with breathlessness but had terrible headaches and joint pains. It physically felt like the virus was moving around my body systematically attacking different parts of it.
“I remember eating Christmas dinner and not being able to taste or smell anything and still haven’t recovered those senses.
“I find too much stimuli like the TV and radio being on just overloads my brain and leaves me feeling confused. Things have got better but it’s a case of one step forward, two steps back.”
Niamh’s GP was honest with her that next to nothing was known about the condition but nevertheless agreed to extensive tests and the two regularly exchanged articles and medical papers to gain a greater understanding of the condition.
“The Elliott Hall Medical Centre has been so supportive and I still check the internet every morning for any latest news about long covid research. It’s hard but what else can you do but keep hoping.”
She set up a Long Covid Facebook Group in Harrow which she says has been a great source of support but finds the proliferation of online books about Covid-19 and supposed cures frustrating.
“We’re all hoping for some scientific breakthrough but there is a lot of questionable material out there which preys on people’s desire to find a cure.
“I’m equally frustrated by those who claim Covid-19 is a hoax or that too much fuss is being made about it. It’s very real and the random way that it affects people is something everyone should be concerned about.”