Long COVID is a debilitating condition which can last for many months or longer after initial SARS-CoV-2 infection. It can be difficult to diagnose long COVID due to the wide-ranging symptoms, lack of COVID-19 testing available at the beginning of the pandemic, the need to exclude other conditions, and because COVID-19 is a new disease which is still not fully understood. There is also a lack of agreement on how best to define long COVID, which has led to varied estimates of disease prevalence.
Surveys have been used to find out how many people might have long COVID in Scotland. However, survey results may not provide an accurate estimate of the national need. For example, surveys may be biased if certain types of people are more likely to respond, or because they rely on patients reporting symptoms themselves, rather than a diagnosis from a health professional.
For this reason, Public Health Scotland and the University of Edinburgh are collaborating on the Early Pandemic Evaluation and Enhanced Surveillance of COVID-19 (EAVE II) long COVID study. Funded by the Chief Scientist’s Office of the Scottish Government, we have sought to identify cases of long COVID in Scotland using routinely collected health data from almost the entire adult Scottish population.
The findings from EAVE II provide population-level estimates on the number of people with long COVID who have interacted with health services. We hope that these data will help ensure that planning and provision of long COVID services in Scotland are informed by Scottish data.
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